JOHANNESBURG – The closing of the Blyvooruitzicht gold mine in South Africa resulted in a humanitarian “catastrophe” and the government must protect the rights of residents who were neglected, according to an advocacy group.
The mine, about 80 km (56 miles) west of Johannesburg, started production in 1942 and was operated by companies including DRDGold and Village Main Reef before going into liquidation in 2013. Lawyers for Human Rights, based in Johannesburg, gathered data from about 300 households in the area and found that 60% of them said they didn’t have enough to eat or the ability to support their children.
“The catastrophe at Blyvooruitzicht is the result of a toxic cocktail involving private sector abdication of responsibility, an inadequate legislative framework and state enforcement effort,” the group said in a report released Friday.
Maintenance of the site ceased after the liquidation, leaving residents exposed to radioactive dust from the mine waste areas and raw sewage in the streets due to the breakdown of infrastructure, according to the report.