Court upholds order to pay for acid mine drainage

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The Supreme Court of Appeal has ordered Harmony Gold to pay for managing acid mine drainage at mines it previously owned in North West.

The provincial Department of Water Affairs had in 2005 directed that Harmony and other companies, including AngloGold Ashanti and DRDGold, manage water contamination caused by mining in the Orkney area and share costs for anti-pollution measures.

Harmony, Africa’s third-largest gold producer by market value, ceased mining in the area in 2008 and then argued unsuccessfully in court that it should no longer pay because it had sold the land.

The Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed Harmony’s appeal this week, saying its interpretation “would result in the absurdity that a polluter could walk away from pollution caused by it with impunity, irrespective of the principle that it must pay the costs of preventing, controlling or minimising and remedying the pollution”.

A Harmony spokeswoman said the company was considering its options as to further legal action. – Reuters

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