Mining Incubator

Photo Credit: Scott Ramsay

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-SA) recognises the role that mining has played and will continue to play in the domestic and global economy. It also recognises the catastrophic impact that poorly regulated mining activities can have on the environment and society at large.

Over the next 20 to 30 years WWF-SA envisages a diversified and inclusive economy in which our reliance on fossil fuels will be diminished significantly and replaced with a large-scale shift to renewable energy and associated job opportunities. To achieve this vision and contribute to economic, social and environmental sustainability in South Africa, significant change is needed in the mining sector and its environmental performance.

This challenge is being addressed by the Mining Incubator project, funded by the WWF Nedbank Green Trust. Between 2018 and 2019 it facilitated a rigorous engagement and scoping process attended by a diverse group of stakeholders. This has created a strong foundation for collaboration. Stakeholders from the mining sector include the mining houses, labour unions, civil society organisations and the private sector.

The stakeholder engagement and scoping process revealed a pressing need to respond to challenges of governance failure in the sector, particularly with regard to mine closures and rehabilitation. It further revealed the need to scale up innovative approaches to rehabilitation that not only address environmental impacts (particularly soil and water quality), but also unlock social and economic benefits for the surrounding communities.

As part of the project, the WWF Nedbank Green Trust commissioned research in May 2019 to provide a critical analysis of existing and pending legislation relating to mine closures and rehabilitation, highlighting barriers to effective implementation and how some of these can be addressed.

Following from this, WWF-SA partnered with Mining Dialogues 360° – an organisation with extensive experience and relationships in the mining sector – to host a series of public dialogues on key challenges pertaining to mine closures and rehabilitation. Together they developed a project aimed at constructing a coherent vision of mine closure and rehabilitation that is transformative and implementable through collaborative action. The need for deeper engagement and collaboration at the local and regional level was one of the key issues raised at the colloquiums convened by the project as well as at the most recent Mining Indaba, where experts from across the mining sector emphasised the need for more effective collaboration through inclusive consultations with all stakeholders.

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