The country requires that the Council for Geoscience (CGS) occupy a more pre-eminent role, to bolster the use of geosciences to help address socioeconomic challenges, says Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.
“These challenges include, but are not limited to, energy security, a just energy transition, sustainable food supply, economic growth, climate change, and disaster management that arises from natural phenomena.”
The Minister, addressing the CGS 2022 Summit, noted that, given the geosciences’ capability to assist with these challenges, more departments should take advantage of the 2010 Amendment of the Geoscience Act empowered the CGS to “review all geotechnical reports and provide appropriate advice to the local authorities in consideration of their infrastructure development programmes”.
“It is not the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s CGS. It is the country’s CGS, and as such, I call upon our municipalities to imbue this notion in their by-laws to augment their service delivery programmes to the satisfaction of the people they serve.”
He cited the government’s multibillion-rand infrastructure build programme, stating that it would require CGS and the geotechnical community to “play an acute role” in safeguarding the integrity of critical infrastructure investment.
“It is essential that infrastructural development be accompanied by sound geotechnical investigations and information. As the national mandated authority in respect of geohazards related to infrastructure development, the CGS should, in future ensure safe development [away from] hazardous ground, by verifying that all necessary steps of the appropriate geotechnical investigations are performed [before] any housing and infrastructure development.”
He commented that the CGS was already compiling geotechnical investigation reports on potentially unstable dolomitic areas identified for the construction of Reconstruction and Development Programme houses and would be expected to participate in the government’s infrastructural development programme.
Moreover, the CGS would play a technical role in addressing the urgent problems of water ingress and acid mine drainage that had resulted from the negative impacts of the mining industry. It was also investigating the effects of other human activities on our water resources, through both episodic and continuous monitoring and by offering support and recommendations to institutions and other government departments.
Mantashe added that the CGS was actively involved in water-related research and the development of local skilled expertise, by collaborating with several institutions.
These included the Water Research Commission, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Department of Water and Sanitation, the Department of Science and Innovation, the Housing Development Agency, and the South African National Research Foundation, as part of its efforts to assist with the “urgent” water-scarcity and water-related challenges affecting the country.