Kruger Park River Polluted by Acid Water From South African Mine

Jan 06, 2014 10:15 am ET

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa is probing a major mine spillage into a river running through Kruger National Park, the country’s biggest game reserve.

Highly acidic water flowed from a dam filled with waste rock into Selati River near Phalaborwa resulting in “a massive fish kill,” South African National Parks said in a statement today. The mine operation is called Bosveld Phosphate, it said.

The incident was uncovered by staff at Kruger National Park after being tipped off on Dec. 30 by a local fisherman. The Department of Water Affairs worked with the mine to stop the spillage and is investigating the causes and effect on the water body, which flows into the Olifants River, one of South Africa’s biggest, said Nigel Adams, a department compliance director.

“It was very serious in the beginning but with intervention we have stopped the spillage and are monitoring the water quality on a daily basis,” he said. “We’re meeting with the mine tomorrow to assess its plan to rectify the situation.”

Visitor camps inside Kruger that use water from Olifants River switched supplies to backup borehole water, SANParks said. Animals drinking from the Olifants may be affected by the pollution, according to SANParks spokesman Ike Phaahla.

About 147 kinds of mammals including lions, rhinos, elephants, water buffalo and leopards live in Kruger National Park, covering 2 million hectares, about the size of Wales in the U.K.

--Editors: Tony Barrett, Antony Sguazzin