Second-hand gold mines shine bright

In a similar vein to my earlier post about the environmental liabilities of older mines, comes this linked article in the Daily Mail & Guardian about the maturing (ageing?) South African gold mining industry.  It's a natural progression and good to see reliable individuals from the industry involved in it.

One comment made me wonder, though:

In the mining sector, you need to look long term, four or five years, and our focus is on dividend yield and our ability to be the benchmark gold-yield vehicle worldwide.

In my experience, this would be a very SHORT timeframe, and this is certainly true when considering environmental impacts.  Very long-term environmental impacts (most notably, effects on ground and surface water bodies) are very present in South Africa today and likely to increase if government inaction continues.  While companies focus on financial results (which is their reason for existence), over short periods of time, the ownership of environmental impacts with potential long-term effects, should not be forgotten.  I believe it would be a mistake for any government to separate the two, allowing mining companies to provide economic benefit (for shareholders, and for any nation) and to expect that government will somehow absorb huge environmental costs itself.