Sustainable development

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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 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 rhino.
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.