Turning pit into pasture
A variety of wildlife roam New Vaal colliery’s biodiversity park
A variety of wildlife roam New Vaal colliery’s biodiversity park which is soon to be enlarged to cover over 1,000 hectares
A herd of zebra grazes off the lush green savannah while,
nearby, a new-born blue wildebeest takes its first hesitant steps
under the watchful gaze of its mother. A kingfisher perches on the
branch of a swaying tree at the water’s edge and a teal
noisily takes flight, disturbing the siesta of a monitor dozing on
a rock. Amazingly, this panorama exists not in South Africa’s
Kruger National Park but in New Vaal colliery’s biodiversity
park, an ongoing rehabilitation programme that will continue long
after mining has stopped.
The biodiversity park is continually growing and will soon cover
an area of over 1,000 hectares with an increasing amount of
wildlife. Species already present include impala, springbok, zebra,
red hartebeest, blue and black wildebeest, eland and duiker. As the
park grows, it will be able to support larger game, including white
The birdlife is prolific and includes darters, cormorants, greater
and lesser flamingo and red kestrels, and there has been a recent
sighting of a giant kingfisher.
New Vaal believes that conservation is the ideal building block
for the creation of sustainability as it attracts tourism, aids job
creation, promotes environmental awareness, facilitates outreach
programmes and conserves our natural heritage. The mine’s
vision for the future is that, as the park grows in size, it will
be used to promote educational and recreational activities. The
introduction of game drives, the establishment of hiking trails and
4x4 routes are ideas that may be considered in the future.
Progress in the rehabilitation process at the colliery has
gained considerable momentum over the last two years and, in 2008,
a record amount of ground was levelled. The importance that New
Vaal colliery places on rehabilitation is evidenced by the
resources it allocates to this vital task. Fifty-seven people are
dedicated to this function and they are appropriately equipped with
six bulldozers, two hydraulic sand shovels, six flat-backed trucks,
three tractors and other agricultural equipment.
The mine has put a great deal of effort into developing and
training its rehabilitation staff in the use of this equipment,
particularly in optimising the use of the bulldozers.
An equally-important responsibility is the preparation of land that
is about to be mined. Any animals present on this land are gently
driven off to the biodiversity park or are lured there with the aid
of salt licks. The presence of vulnerable or sensitive plant
species is noted so that these can be reintroduced in the
subsequent rehabilitation phase.