A multidisciplinary approach for the assessment of rehabilitation at asbestos mines in South Africa

21 January 2014

The asbestos mining industry has left a legacy of pollution that continues to poison former mining areas and surrounding land-posing a significant health risk to local communities. In order to assist the effective rehabilitation of derelict and ownerless asbestos mines it was critical to develop a scientific database to indicate the status of rehabilitation at specific sites. The rehabilitation prioritisation index (RPI) was developed in 2007 to indicate the sequence for rehabilitation of asbestos pollution by quantifying the risk associated with a specific pollution site. In this study, a multidisciplinary approach was applied to sites in three provinces as identified in the RPI, to facilitate the development of the rehabilitation monitoring index (RMI) that would assist in the successful monitoring and long-term rehabilitation of asbestos mines. Quantitative and qualitative parameters were assessed in all three provinces and applied in the RMI as weighted factors from which the rehabilitation status of a specific site can be calculated. From the quantitative data, those parameters which had the greatest influence on the rehabilitation process were identified. Qualitative data contributed 25 % and quantitative data 75 % to the calculation of the RMI value. The Limpopo Province was identified as the province with the least successful rehabilitation. The results from this investigation show that a multidisciplinary approach is a step in the right direction to facilitate the successful monitoring of rehabilitated post-mining sites such as asbestos mines.