TDS load contribution from acid mine drainage to Hartbeespoort Dam, South Africa


  • PJ Hobbs Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), PO Box 395, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa



acid mine drainage, allogenic water, autogenic water, Cradle of Humankind, karst springs, karst terrane, TDS load


Evidence of a mine-water impact on groundwater in the karst aquifer downstream of the actively draining West Rand Goldfield can be traced back to the early 1980s. This is attributed to the dewatering of ‘fissure water’ encountered during mining, and its discharge into the Bloubank Spruit catchment. Rewatering of the subsurface void following the cessation of mining in the late 1990s culminated in mine-water issuing from various point sources (shafts and boreholes) in 2002. The past 6 hydrological years have periodically produced the greatest volume and worst quality of mine-water discharge, causing widespread concern for the receiving aquatic environment. In this regard, the proximal Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site attracts a much sharper focus than the distal, regionally important Hartbeespoort Dam. Objectivity requires that an assessment of the mine-water impact on the receiving surface water resources must recognise both the subregional and regional scales. The evaluation presented in this communication examines the temporal mine-water impact at both scales, and interprets the results in terms of the influence exerted by the natural hydrosystem in mitigating adverse impacts on the water resources environment. An analysis of the respective contributions of each of the major drainages to the quantity and quality of water impounded in Hartbeespoort Dam indicates that the median total dissolved solids (TDS) load delivered by the Bloubank Spruit system amounted to ~26 kt/a in the past 6 hydrological years. This is ~12% of the regional median total of ~224 kt/a entering the impoundment in the same period. By comparison, the preceding long-term record dating back 30 years to 1979 reflects a 66% lower median annual contribution of 8.6 kt, representing ~10% of a regional median total of ~89 kt/a. Proportionally, therefore, the recent 6-year period of high volume and poor-quality discharge from the Bloubank Spruit catchment represents only a marginally greater TDS load contribution to Hartbeespoort Dam than that which characterises the previous 30 years.


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How to Cite

PJ Hobbs. (2017). TDS load contribution from acid mine drainage to Hartbeespoort Dam, South Africa. Water SA, 43(4 October).



Research paper