Mining has had a large impact on environmental sustainability in South Africa and will continue to affect the area into the future. Open-pit mining in mines like Kimberley have created large deep pits which grew wider and filled up with water during rainfall it can increase up to 20 metres at times with heavy rain. An indirect effect of mining is the larger population increases strains in the water supplies and have led to an increase of pollution in rivers. On average the pollution in rivers due to acid drainage by diamond mines has increased by 36% between 1956 and 2003. Another indirect impact of mining on the environment due to a population increase is commercial farming leading to a steady degradation in soil quality and soil erosion in many places. This is as livestock pull up all of the grass while they eat it and this makes the ground unstable. The open-pit mining means that large amounts of excess rock, sand and soil and processed Kimberlite can accumulate in areas and just stay there as there is not much that you can do with it. This is what is happening in some South African mines and it is a direct and unsustainable impact on the environment. The De Beers have also had a large impact on the environment as by the end of the 20th century the company had extracted around 31 million carats of diamonds from the Namaqualand Mines which "are located along a 150 kilometre stretch of coastline by strip mining parts of the land to a depth of about 40 meters." This has had colossal effects on the environment. Mining in Angola, South-West Africa, has also lead to deforestation and local populations to relocate. This deforestation is a direct impact of mining as they need to clear the trees out of the way this is very unsustainable and it is not good for the future. In Anglola there has been an 6% decrease in the amount of vegetation between 1968 and 2001 and currently there is a deforestation rate of 0.2% and 0.25% which is around 124,800 ha per year. The population relocation is an indirect and unsustainable impact of mining and theses people were pushed out of their homes by unsustainable mining. Angolan diamond miners have also been so irresponsible and unsustainable that they have re-routed rivers and made dams to expose riverbeds for mining this has horrible effects on fish and on wildlife that use the river for their food and water source. This is a major impact on the environment and is very unsustainable. When some of the abandoned pits in South Africa become filled with stagnant water they become infested with mosquitos and become a breeding site for malaria and other diseases. This has a major impact on the sustainability of animals and on people, as the diseases are very deadly.
Once a mine is closed down, companies are obliged to provide the financial and other resources to ensure that disturbed areas are returned to a state that is equivalent to or better than it was before the mining started
The De Beers have left mines all over South Africa in a horrible and unsustainable condition. The size that they have left of destructed land is approximately 2,000 football fields that are un-rehabilitated. The area that the De Beers have left is currently having a direct impact on the sustainability of plant species in the area that occur nowhere else on the planet. They have threatened 45 species of plants, which may no longer be around in the future due to the unsustainable mining. South African law sates that, “Once a mine is closed down, companies are obliged to provide the financial and other resources to ensure that disturbed areas are returned to a state that is equivalent to or better than it was before the mining started.” But the De Beers Company is trying to avoid these obligations by selling the mine to Trans Hex. And Trans Hex does not have the technical capacity to fulfil these regulations and they also have a very bad record when it comes to environmental rehabilitation of other mines in Africa. Although there have been a few sustainable acts by diamond companies in South Africa, such as “The diamond industry has established a number of Nature Reserves, where there are breeding programmes for rare and endangered species which have introduced antelope, disease-free buffalo and white rhino calves into the population.” And also the fact that the Angolan government plans to increase the amount of trees by 50%. The diamond mining industry is not very sustainable when it comes to the environment in South Africa and South-West Africa but it has done a few sustainable acts to help the surrounding environment for the future. I therefore think that mining has a significant impact on the environment.