The water resources in South Africa are threatened by current and past mining practices such as abandoned and closed mines. While mining is considered valuable for its contribution to this country's gross domestic product, its polluting effects on water and land resources have been criticised as unsustainable. Acid mine drainage (AMD) is one specific public health and ecological issue that has stirred debates in political and social circles in this country. This paper examines the scalar politics and other related dimensions of water and AMD governance, thereby revealing evidence of deep-rooted challenges regarding the governance of water and mineral resources. The specific focus is on the socio-political context of labour laws and Black Economic Empowerment and the decision-making processes adopted by government. Thus, this paper has implications for the improvement of environmental governance and decision-making strategies and the adoption of a national strategy for adequately addressing AMD and related policy issues.