Reliance on existing wetlands for pollution control around the Witwatersrand gold/uranium mines of South Africa - Are they sufficient?
The gold deposits of the Witwatersrand contain appreciable concentrations of uranium, which have at times been exploited commercially. Conditions downstream of mines have led to the development of extensive wetland systems, which have been shown to concentrate heavy metals including uranium and uranium series radionuclides from water discharged by mining operations and leachates derived from mine wastes. While these wetlands act as pollution sinks, geochemical simulations and models indicate that metals may be remobilised and pose a hazard to downstream water users.
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