Exposed: Firms sell toxic mine dump sand to unsuspecting building industry

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Exposed: Firms sell toxic mine dump sand to unsuspecting building industry

Sand tailings at Snake Park in Soweto, 10 June 2019. Mine dumps are made up of crushed, sand-like by-product refuse material, known as tailings, produced during the mining process. Mine dumps are made up of a complex mixture of metals and dust particles. Dust exposure can be high for communities living nearby, particularly during windy conditions and when it’s dry and vegetation cover is low.Picture: Nigel Sibanda

When the sand is mixed with cement and water, it releases radon gas, which is the second-biggest cause of lung cancer.

A string of sand businesses are stocking up from a mine dump near Florida, Johannesburg, and are selling it to unsuspecting customers for use in the building industry. After seeing businesses operating on the dump, The Citizen bought a bag of sand from one of the enterprises, Alpha Portland Cement Depot, and sent it to the Bench Marks Foundation for testing. Lead researcher David van Wyk found the sand was contaminated with traces of uranium, lead, iron and silver, which resembled the characteristics of sand from mine dumps. Van Wyk said when the sand was mixed with cement and water,...


 


 


 

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