According to South African government records, there are no fewer than 400 abandoned coal mines.The risks from unrehabilitated mines extend far beyond the people who access the sites –they risk polluting the water of millions of South Africans. Coal across South Africa is found predominantly in ores with sulfur-bearing minerals. When these ores come into contact with water and air, sulfuric acid is created, which can lead to further leaching of heavymetals from ores. This reaction poses significant risks to water and agricultural land in many parts of South Africa, including in Mpumalanga. Acid mine drainage (AMD), if left untreated, can have devastating impacts: it can render water unusable, soils unproductive, and even corrode municipal infrastructure for water delivery.
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Human Rights Watch is a nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization made up of roughly 400 staff members around the globe. Its staff consists of human rights professionals including country experts, lawyers, journalists, and academics of diverse backgrounds and nationalities. Established in 1978, Human Rights Watch is known for its accurate fact-finding, impartial reporting, effective use of media, and targeted advocacy, often in partnership with local human rights groups.