HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - REPORT ON THE NATIONAL HEARING ON THE UNDERLYING SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHALLENGES OF MINING AFFECTED COMMUNITIES
The SAHRC launched its Report on the National Hearing on the Underlying Socio-economic Challenges of Mining-affected Communities in South Africa on the 22nd of August 2018. The FSE participated in the Hearing and many of its issues of concern are addressed in the Report. The Report may be opened here as a PDF document.
The FSE is in possession of the subjoined presentations and supporting documentation pertaining to the Gauteng EIA Sector Stakeholder Seminar, which the FSE will forward on request.
The FSE’s presentation is attached hereto.
These documents include:
1. EAPASA and
2. The Federation for a Sustainable Environment.
The FSE is a member of the Department of Water and Sanitation’s Steering Committee for the Continuation of the Integrated Vaal River System reconciliation Strategy Study – Phase 2 and participated in the 2nd SCC which was held on the 13th of February, 2019.
The Agenda included the following Items:
i. Eradication of Unlawful Irrigation
ii. DWS Water Management Plans
iii. Implementation of LHWP Phase 2
iv. Noordoewer/Vioolsdrift Dam Feasibility Study
v. Water Quality Management
4. Water Balance Status
The FSE will supply the above-mentioned presentations on request.
A Battle to Hold Mining Company Accountable
Mintails left behind a R460 million ‘environmental mess’
Saturday Star | 23 Feb 2019 | SHEREE BEGA
MINTAILS, a gold mining company on the West Rand, has long been red-flagged for causing environmental damage at its operations. | BHEKIKHAYA MABASO African News Agency (ANA)
MARIETTE Liefferink toys absently with the faux gold necklace coiled tightly around her neck like a scarf.
“Perhaps, if people ask me, I can say we can all look pretty with imitation gold,” she says, flashing a smile.
The 65-year-old mining activist does not wear real gold – and she never will. The reason lies all around her here on the polluted gold fields of the West Rand.
Today, the chief executive of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) is showing the R460 million environmental “mess” left behind by Mintails, a liquidated gold mining and tailings processing company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
She gestures to a cluster of unrehabilitated mine dumps on Main Reef Road. “At all their sites, there’s no access control, no stormwater and dust control or any other mitigation or management of the dumps and tailings storage facilities. This has created opportunities for zama zamas to conduct their mining operations.”
For the past 12 years, Liefferink’s quest has been to obtain “justice for communities, future generations and the mute receiving environment” affected by Mintails expansive operations stretching across Krugersdorp and Randfontein.
She has spent hundreds of hours compiling complaints and requests to authorities for investigations and enforcement, lodging Promotion of Access to Information Act requests and analysing water quality results.
The embattled firm applied for business rescue in October 2015, but was liquidated in September last year. It has an unfunded environmental liability of R485 million, but only around R25 million financial provision in its environmental rehabilitation funds.
The “delinquency”, argues Liefferink, is not only on the part of the firm and its directors but also the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) for their non-enforcement of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), National Water Act and the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA).
“The DMR, as well as the DWS, allowed Mintails to operate from 2012 to 2018 without a mining right, an approved environmental management programme report and financial provisions.”
While the DMR and DWS issued the company with several pre-directives and directives for non-compliance since 2013, these were not enforced.
“This resulted in this unfunded environmental liability of R460 million, clusters of open pits of 40m deep, partially reclaimed tailings storage facilities, unrehabilitated footprints and toxic and radioactive dams.”
Last week, the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), which represents the FSE, sent a final letter of demand to the DMR and DWS, to urgently intervene in addressing Mintails’ pollution. If the departments did not adequately respond by yesterday, the matter will head to court imminently.
The letter states that the DMR and DWS must enforce their directives as a matter of urgency and provide a date by when compliance must be achieved by the liquidators and directors.
“The DWS, the Mintails Group and their violations was an agenda item on every Wonderfonteinspruit catchment management forum meeting with minutes taken. No action was taken by DWS,” states Lucien Limacher, the acting regional director of the LRC, in the letter.
The letter demands that the DMR and the DWS must issue new directives to the liquidators and directors of Mintails to start remedial action and “contain the toxic sludge that is currently polluting and degrading the environment as a matter of urgency”. Further damage is allegedly being caused by continuing open pit mining.
The DMR “must take reasonable measures to remedy the situation” or apply to a competent court should the Mintails Group not comply or inadequately comply with the directives.
“Should the Mintails Group not comply with the directives, in terms of NEMA, the DMR (must) issue an ex parte application against the Mintails Group to attach and seize property and cover the expenses of the rehabilitation in terms of section 45 of the MPRDA.”
The letter also states how the DMR and the Commission and Intellectual Property Commission “must hold accountable the directors of Mintails for the rehabilitation infringements by bringing a delinquency application” under the Companies Act.
“The directors have grossly abused the position of director, intentionally or negligently, inflicted harm upon the company and the subsidiaries, acted in a manner that amounted to gross negligence and have repeatedly been personally subject to directives from the DMR and DWS.”
In November, a report by the Parliamentary portfolio committee on mineral resources stated how the DMR had failed to ensure Mintails had made the required provision to repair over R300m of environmental damage. The report was sparked by a probe into Mintails collapse by investigative environmental journalism unit, Oxpeckers.
“The committee is often confronted by instances of the devastation caused by careless mining where the DMR says it is a state liability because no one can be found to take responsibility.
“In the case of the Mintails operation, this mine went into business rescue in 2015, at a time when the mining company had an unfunded environmental liability of over R300m. It had saved barely R20m for all its responsibilities.”
The committee’s report noted how Mintails disputed its environmental liability, employing consultants who offered estimates far lower than those of the DMR.
The National Nuclear Regulator (NNR), which conducted a site visit in December as the waste had a “radioactive/nuclear element, according to the FSE, says an internal process is under way.
“You can rest assured that the NNR will play its regulatory role and discharge its responsibilities in accordance with its mandate regarding this matter,” it says.
Sputnik Ratau, spokesperson for the DWS, explains how it issued Mintails with a pre-directive in November 2017. “This required Mintails to cease the seepage of Lancaster Dam wall, clean historic spillages along the reclamation pipeline, rehabilitate the wetlands in the proximity of its tailing storage facility and address inadequate stormwater management.”
But the Mintails response to the pre-directive was “deemed unsatisfactory” by the DWS in a letter dated June 28 2018.” The firm then submitted a detailed implementation plan to curb the pollution to the DWS on July 2.
However, when Mintails was placed under provisional liquidation in August last year, this “derailed all the progress that was achieved through the pre-directive process”.
The DWS is now seeking legal advice internally. “Does the issued pre-directive and commitment made by Mintails carry over to the liquidators, directors and business rescue practitioner? Are the directors and business rescue practitioner legally obliged to comply to the issued pre-directive and implementation plan submitted by Mintails?
“Are the liquidators legally obligated to deal with operational issues such as a directive and pollution considering that they are appointed for a limited period to collect all the assets of the mine to settle the claims of its creditors and distribute any of the remainder of the assets to the shareholders of the mine.”
The DWS was previously advised in a similar case that it is not the duty of liquidators to manage the day to day business. “Their objective is to realise assets on behalf of creditors. As such, liquidators cannot be directed to manage pollution.”
Liefferink worries about impunity. “It would appear when a mining company is in business rescue or liquidation, then the directors and liquidators have no duty of care and simply walk away. The environment, future generations and communities must carry the impact, as in the case of Blyvoor and Aurora. That is totally contrary to the polluter pays principle.”
Ratau says the DWS would conduct a site investigation with the liquidators yesterday to “verify the allegations of pollution”.
The mandate of rehabilitation rests with the DMR. “However, DWS is engaging the DMR to ensure that water resources are protected.”
The Legal Resources Centre, which represents the FSE, sent a final letter of demand to the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Water and Sanitation, on the 14th of February, 2019 to urgently intervene in addressing Mintails’ pollution. If the departments do not adequately respond by the 22nd of February, 2019, the FSE shall proceed to initiate legal action.
Letter of demand and annexures attached for download.
New blow for would-be Mpumalanga coal miner
29 January 2019 | By John Yeld
Surprise move by MEC for Environmental Affairs Vusi Shongwe
A new blow has been dealt to attempts to open a coal mine in protected Mpumalanga grasslands. Photo: supplied
A surprise, flip-flop decision by Mpumalanga MEC for Environmental Affairs Vusi Shongwe has delivered another blow to an Indian mining company trying to establish a huge new coal mine in a critical water catchment area.
Shongwe’s decision has reignited a vicious Twitter exchange about the proposed mine.
Atha-Africa Ventures, a local subsidiary of India-based transnational mining and minerals company Atha Group, is attempting to develop the Yzermyn coal mine, an underground mine with a projected 15-year-lifespan that lies within the Mabola Protected Environment (MPE).
The MPE was proclaimed in January 2014 to help protect a strategic water catchment and crucial biodiversity area of the highly threatened Mpumalanga grasslands and wetlands.
In November last year, during a legal challenge to the mine, Shongwe suddenly published a Notice of Intention in the Provincial Gazette to exclude three of the properties that make up the proposed coal mine from the protected environment – a move that would have effectively paved the way for mining.
In an affidavit, Shongwe explained that he had been approached during March 2018 by members of the local community with a request to exclude the protected properties.
But in mid-December – and equally unexpectedly – Shongwe signed a new notice to withdraw his original Notice of Intention, with no reasons being given for his change of heart. That decision was published in the Provincial Gazette on 25 January.
The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) had filed a 22-page objection to the proposed excision of the coal mining properties from the MPE, pointing out that Shongwe’s plan was to facilitate the development of the proposed Yzermyn coal mine.
The CER said that, as part of his initial rationale for wanting to excise the properties from the protected area, Shongwe had included a memorandum dated 6 March 2018 from a Volksrust-based civic organisation, the Voice Community Representative Council, that purported to represent the majority of people living in the Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme Municipality.
The memorandum, that had raised “serious concerns” about declaring the Mabola Protected Environment, had been accompanied by a petition signed by some 8,500 community members, Shongwe said.
However, the CER pointed out in its objection that the petition was dated 30 August 2013, and had been submitted to then environment MEC “Pinky” Phosa when she was considering declaring the Mabola Protected Environment. “The Petition is of little, if any, relevance to the Exclusion Notice presently before the Honourable MEC [Shongwe],” the CER argued.
Responding to an invitation by GroundUp to comment, Atha-Africa said it had not made any representations on Shongwe’s original Notice of Intention and did not have any comment on the matter.
“Atha is aware that the community of Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme opposed the declaration of the Mabola Protected Environment in 2014 and a petition was signed by over 9,000 community members against the declaration. Only the local community can comment if this latest decision to withdraw the notice of intention to exclude properties from Mabola Protected Environment has the community’s buy-in or not,” the company said.
However, that careful response was in sharp contrast to what transpired on Twitter.
Environmental journalist Elise Tempelhoff posed a question to Atha-Africa senior vice-president Praveer Tripathi on Twitter, asking whether Shongwe’s latest decision meant that Atha-Africa had now “given up” on Mabola.
The head of the Voice Community Representative Council, Thabiso Nene, who tweets as @madlokovu15, jumped in with a reply, labelling Tempelhoff’s question “disgusting”.
In a second tweet to Tempelhoff, Nene said:
“Fun hw u have been absent when community was rejecting CER [Centre for Environmental Rights]. Bt not surprise yo kind tell the story of the elite. Watch the next move of the community. We will not rest till we have our democratic way. Even if Atha give up, community will not quite [quit].”
Both Nene’s tweets also tagged Tripathi, who has waged a bitter Twitter war against opponents of Atha-Africa’s proposed coal mine but who insists that his tweets reflect his personal views and not his company’s.
Tripathi tweeted several times, tagging both Tempelhoff and Nene. One of his Tweets reads:
“If the community gives up it would mean that a handful of foreign funded anti-development anti-people CSO’s [Civil Society Organisations] with media in their support can stop any development and employment with their slick lies. Their tactics are abominable but what’s more sick is that media can’t see it.”
In other tweets, he makes new derogatory and defamatory remarks about the CER, which is representing the eight members of a Coalition opposing development of the proposed coal mine. This was despite Tripathi telling the Minerals Council of South Africa (formerly the Chamber of Mines) – in response to a formal complaint to the council by the CER – last year that he would be “more sensitive” in his social media comments about those opposing his company’s attempt to mine coal at Yzermyn.
This Economic Impact Assessment Report is one of the additional specialist studies requested by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) in 2018 for the Basic Assessment Report (BAR) process being conducted for the Tja Naledi Barrage Sand Mine, located along the banks of the Vaal River, on the northern boundary of the Ngwanthe Local Municipality in the Fezile Dabi Magisterial district, Free State Province.
While it has not been possible to undertake a strategic economic assessment of suitable land use developments for this area (as requested by the local Federation for Sustainable Environment (FSE) during the assessment process), this Economic Impact Assessment has gone beyond the normal scope of assessing the positive economic impacts of the proposed mining amendment, and considered the negative economic impacts.
The Report concluded:
“Our recommendation is that DMR carefully consider how they will ensure the effective management of the cumulative impacts of sand mining in this and other areas along the Vaal River. To do this, it will be necessary to develop a regional perspective on the existing sand and gravel mines as well as the applications for mining rights, and develop a regulatory strategy that can manage the number of mines in each locality and the economic impacts on other economic activities.
With respect to the current applications by Tja Naledi and Pure Source, the economic impacts of these mines on existing economic activities and the marginal economic situation for these mines, suggests that it would not be appropriate to approve these mining applications at this stage. Alternatively, they could be approved subject to the mitigation measures recommended and included in their EMPs, if and when the mine’s business financials are proven to be viable (given the broader market context) and can cover the cost of the mitigation measures that are needed to minimise the visual, noise, dust and traffic impacts. This may encourage the mining companies to look for sand mining opportunities in areas where the visual, noise, dust and traffic impacts are minor.”
The above recommendations by the independent consultants (Eviro Works) are seen by the FSE, Vaal Eden Committee as significantly supportive of its arguments that sand mining is not the best practicable environmental option for the area.
The Report is attached for download.
De Beers withdraws Groot Marico application
SATURDAY STAR / 8 JANUARY 2019, 12:07PM / SHEREE BEGA
One of the three eyes that supplies water to the Groot Marico River. PABALLO THEKISO
Mining giant De Beers has withdrawn its application to prospect for potential diamond-bearing rock in the highly sensitive catchment of the Groot Marico River.
This comes after a judicial review application was launched by a community organisation, Mmutlwa wa Noko, which works to maintain the integrity of the pristine river and its catchment, last year.
Mmutlwa wa Noko launched the application after the now-deceased Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, dismissed over 140 appeals in 2016, against the environmental authorisation granted to the mining firm.
“The Groot Marico, which is fed by dolomite eyes, is one of the last remaining surface-flowing fresh water resources in the North West,” said Mmutlwa wa Noko. “The waters of the upper Groot Marico River, across which the prospecting rights application falls, is so pure that it is safe to drink directly from the river. It is one of the few remaining free-flowing stretches of river in South Africa.”
Last July, the Groot Marico Biosphere Reserve was declared by Unesco, becoming the first biosphere in North West, safeguarding its dolomitic aquifer system.
In November 2015, De Beers had applied for environmental authorisation to prospect for kimberlite in the areas of Swartruggens, Mabaalstad/Koster and Groot Marico within the Groot Marico River catchment.
“The application area lies immediately upstream of the town of Groot Marico and the adjoining township of Reboile, both of which are dependent on the Groot Marico River for water,” said Mmutlwa wa Noko.
Prospecting was granted to De Beers in February 2016, and over 140 appeals were submitted.
In December 2017, the appeals directorate of the Department of Environmental Affairs informed interested and affected parties that Molewa had dismissed the appeals.
“On June 6, 2018, Mmutlwa wa Noko launched judicial review proceedings in the North Gauteng High Court against the minister, the regional manager of minerals regulation and De Beers. De Beers did not oppose. The minister and regional manager both opposed.
“On October 23, our attorney was informed by the State Attorney that De Beers was excluding from their application the areas of Modderfontein, Vergenoeg and Wonderfontein, and also that the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) was unconditionally withdrawing its opposition in this matter. On October 25, 2018, the State Attorney filed a notice of withdrawal for DMR.
“At this stage, no notice of withdrawal has been submitted for the minister, but the minister's office has not submitted an answering affidavit within the time allowed by the High Court rules.
“Accordingly, the matter has been set down on the unopposed motion roll for a judge to officially set aside the granting of the environmental authorisation on the first available court date, which is May 6.
“This means that there will be no prospecting or mining by De Beers in the application areas within the Groot Marico River catchment. The judicial review application had the desired effect,” it said.
The Groot Marico River catchment is a key strategic water resource for the North West and has been declared a national freshwater ecosystem priority area by the SA National Biodiversity Institute.
The river is of international significance as it provides Gaborone with water and ultimately becomes the Limpopo River, which flows through South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) also appealed the authorisation of the De Beer's application.
“The reasons for our appeal were an alleged flawed public participation process and the fact that this matter resolves around the issue of prospecting in an area of highest biodiversity importance and a National Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Area,” explained Mariette Liefferink, the chief executive of the FSE.
High Court refuses mining company’s leave to appeal
A strategic water source area already protected by law is protected by the courts.
Sasha Planting / 23 January 2019 00:41
Mining companies have left a heavy imprint on Mpumalanga, a biodiverse region vital to SA's water supply. Civil society is fighting back. Image: Supplied
Yesterday the North Gauteng High Court refused mining company Atha Africa leave to appeal the court’s decision to set aside permissions for a new coal mine inside a declared protected environment.
This is a victory for the eight civil society organisations represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), which have opposed the mining venture since 2015. At the time, then minister of mineral resources Mosebenzi Zwane and the late minister of environmental affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, granted Atha-Africa Ventures – an Indian-owned mining company – the right to mine coal in an area in Mpumalanga that was declared a Protected Environment in January 2014.
Known as the Mabola Protected Environment, it was declared such by the Mpumalanga provincial government as part of more than 70 000 hectares of protected area in the Mpumalanga grasslands. This followed years of research and planning by a number of government agencies, including the department of environmental affairs, the South African National Biodiversity Institute and the Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks Agency.
In 2016, without public consultation and without notice, the two ministers gave their permission for a large 15-year coal mine to be built inside the Mabola Protected Environment.
This was move was greeted with dismay by South Africa’s green lobby.
The Mabola Protected Environment is situated outside Wakkerstroom in Mpumalanga and falls within what has been classified as one of 22 Strategic Water Source Areas by the South African National Biodiversity Institute, a government body, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Strategic Water Source Areas constitute just 8% of SA’s land but provide more than 50% of our freshwater.
“The organisations opposing this particular mine do so because the proposed mine would be inside a declared protected area and a strategic water source area: with acid mine drainage estimated to require water treatment until 2097, the mine would threaten water security not only in the local area but in the region,” says CER attorney Catherine Horsfield. “The damage that this mine would do to water resources cannot be undone. The organisations that have brought this action are deeply committed to job creation and improving the quality of life of local people, but we also know that instead of bringing wealth and livelihoods, coal mining has devastated the lives, health and well-being of communities across the Highveld.”
In November 2018 the Pretoria High Court set aside the ministers’ approval and referred the decision back to them for reconsideration.
Relying on the decisions of others
The court set aside the decision on the basis that the decision-making process was not transparent, was procedurally unfair (there was no public participation process) and the ministers failed to independently and distinctively apply their minds to the decision, instead relying on the decisions of other decision-makers in relation to other approvals.
In light of the lack of transparency and public participation, the court handed down a punitive costs order against the ministers and the MEC.
Yesterday, the court heard Atha Africa’s application for leave to appeal the November decision to a full bench of the high court. The court refused Atha’s application and awarded costs against it.
The ministers of mineral resources and environmental affairs, as well as the Mpumalanga MEC, had also applied for leave to appeal the court’s decision but withdrew their application yesterday. The court ordered that the state pay the coalition’s wasted legal costs in preparing to oppose that application.
The coalition that brought the court application to set aside permissions for the proposed coal mine comprises the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of SA, groundWork, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, BirdLife SA, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, the Association for Water and Rural Development, and the Bench Marks Foundation.
THE FSE’s COMMENTS ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PLAN REPORT BLYVOOR GOLD MINING PROJECT
Find the document attached for download.
FSE’s COMMENTS ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT REPORT FOR THE PROPOSED BLYVOOR GOLD MINE PROJECT NEAR CARLETONVILLE, WEST RAND, GAUTENG – please see attached.
On Thursday, the 8th of November 2018, the North Gauteng High Court set aside the 2016 decisions of former Mineral Resources Minister Zwane and the late Environmental Affairs Minister Molewa to permit a new coal mine to be developed in the Mabola Protected Environment near Wakkerstroom, Mpumalanga.
The case was brought by the coalition of eight civil society organisations challenging a range of authorisations that have permitted an underground coal mine in a strategic water source area and a protected area.
The Mabola Protected Environment was declared under the Protected Areas Act in 2014 by the Mpumalanga provincial government as part of the declaration of more than 70 000 hectares of protected area in the Mpumalanga grasslands. This followed years of extensive research and planning by a number of government agencies, including the Department of Environmental Affairs, the South African National Biodiversity Institute and the Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks Agency.
In 2016, without public consultation and without notice to the coalition, the two Ministers gave their permission for a large, 15-year coal mine to be built inside the Mabola Protected Environment.
The Court set aside the permission and referred the decision back to the two Ministers for reconsideration on the basis that the Ministers did not take their decisions in an open and transparent manner or in a manner that promoted public participation, and that the decisions were therefore procedurally unfair.
The court criticised the Ministers for relying on the processes followed by other decision-makers instead of exercising their discretion under the Protected Areas Act independently, referring particularly to their failure to apply a cautionary approach when dealing with “sensitive, vulnerable, highly dynamic or stressed ecosystems” as “an impermissible abdication of decision-making authority”.
The court also held that: “a failure to take South Africa’s international responsibilities relation to the environment into account and a failure to take into account that the use and exploitation of non-renewable natural resources must take place in a responsible and equitable manner would not satisfy the ‘higher level of scrutiny’ necessary when considering whether mining activities should be permitted in a protected environment or not. Such failures would constitute a failure by the state of its duties as trustees of vulnerable environment, particularly where it has been stated that ‘most people would agree, when thinking of the tomorrows of unborn people that it is a present moral duty to avoid causing harm to the environment'” (at 11).
The permission for this mine given by Molewa and Zwane was the first in South Africa for a new mine to be permitted in a protected environment. Earthlife Africa, the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa (MEJCON-SA), the Endangered Wildlife Trust, BirdLife South Africa, the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, the Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD), the Bench Marks Foundation and groundWork, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights, challenged the late Environmental Affairs’ Minister’s and the former Minerals Minister’s decisions to allow this mine to go ahead.
The court ordered that on reconsideration of the application for permission to mine in the Mabola Protected Environment, the Ministers are directed to:
The High Court expressed its criticism of “a disturbing feature in the conduct of the Ministers” and endorsed the submission made by counsel for the coalition that “ethical environmental governance and behaviour is enhanced simply by exposing it to the glare of public scrunity”. What resulted was “an unjustifiable and unreasonable departure from the PAJA presripts and lead to procedurally unfair administrative action.” The High Court ordered the Ministers and MEC to pay the coalition’s legal costs on an attorney and client (punitive) scale.
“South Africa has long recognised that the grasslands of Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State are incredibly important to South Africa’s natural heritage. The grasslands are important water sources, and home to a range of production sectors that underpin economic development. In the case of Mabola, the Protected Environment falls inside a strategic water source area which feeds some of South Africa’s biggest rivers,” says Yolan Friedmann, Chief Executive Officer of the Endangered Wildlife Trust. “Moreover, protected areas not only help protect our biodiversity – particularly our incredible wildlife – and important natural ecosystems, but are also a key part of South Africa’s reputation as a global tourist destination.”
Mashile Phalane, spokesperson for the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa (MEJCON-SA) says: “This judgement is a victory for environmental justice. We want to see protected areas actually protected against mining by our government as custodians of the environment on behalf of all South Africans. This custodianship is violated if decisions that have such important consequences are taken behind closed doors. MEJCON-SA is deeply invested in issues of accountability. This judgement reinforces the fundamental importance of fair and transparent decision making.”
Catherine Horsfield, attorney and mining programme head at the Centre for Environmental Rights, welcomed the judgement. “It confirms to government and to all developers proposing heavily polluting projects in environmentally sensitive areas in South Africa that exceptional circumstances must be shown to exist to justify that proposed development. South Africa is a water-stressed country, and the Mabola Protected Environment, where the coal mine would be located, has particular hydrological significance for the country as a whole.
“The judgement also confirms the foundational principles of our law that went awry when the Ministers made their decisions to permit mining here. These are that no decision of this magnitude can be made unless a fair, proper and transparent decision making process has been followed.”
THE NEMPAA JUDGEMENT IS ATTACHED FOR DOWNLOAD.
Draft report of the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources on its oversight visit North West and Gauteng on the 13 – 14 September 2018.
Find the pdf attached for download.
The SAHRC launched its Report on the National Hearing on the Underlying Socio-economic Challenges of Mining-affected Communities in South Africa on the 22nd of August 2018.
The FSE participated in the Hearing and many of its issues of concern are addressed in the Report.
The Report may be opened here as a PDF document.
Liquidation leaves a R330-million environmental mess for Gauteng residents, government and other mining companies to clean up. Mark Olalde investigates