SA News

Expections of mining in protected areas

Written by  Saturday, 19 September 2015 08:01
Rate this item
(0 votes)

A coalition of civil society and community organisations, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), has instituted legal action in the Pretoria High Court against the Minister of Mineral Resources, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, following his grant of a coal mining right to Atha-Africa Ventures (AAV) inside the sensitive Mabola Protected Environment.

The eight coalition members that the CER  -  a non-profit environmental rights law clinic -  is representing are Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of SA, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, BirdLife South Africa, the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, Bench Marks Foundation, Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD), and groundWork.

Situated near Wakkerstroom in the Mpumalanga grasslands, the Mabola Protected Environment covers an area of critical hydrological importance and biodiversity to South Africa. Not only is the area composed mostly of wetlands, pans and endangered grassland ecosystems that support endangered species, it is also the source of three major rivers  -  the Tugela, the Vaal, and the Pongola  -  that support downstream water users who will be affected if the source of those rivers is compromised. For these reasons, this area has been classified as a Strategic Water Source Area, a National Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Area, and an Aquatic Critical Biodiversity Area.

Unlawful

Catherine Horsfield, Attorney and Mining Programme Head at the CER, says: "The Minerals Minister's decision to grant the right was unlawful because coal mining in such a strategically important area would result in unacceptable pollution, ecological degradation and damage to the environment. That being so, the mining right should never have been granted. Moreover, the fact that it is a protected environment means that commercial mining can only take place with the permission of both the Ministers of Mineral Resources and Environmental Affairs. No permission has been given by -  or even sought from  -  the Minister of Environmental Affairs. Minister Ramatlhodi also disregarded the opposing views of the Department of Water and Sanitation and conservation agencies. On these bases we will argue that his decision should be set aside by the court."

Inexplicable

According to an AAV environmental impact assessment report, the company plans to de-water the wetlands; draw water from the subsurface water resources; and pollute the streams that feed the rivers originating in the area. The report also states that seepage of acid mine drainage from the mine into the freshwater system is highly likely. "There is overwhelming evidence that most of the damage to this sensitive aquatic environment cannot be mitigated and will therefore be irreversible," Horsfield adds.

Makoma Lekalakala, Branch Co-ordinator of Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, says, "The mining right was granted without having regard to downstream water users dependent on the water, or a quantification of the dewatering effect on economic activities downstream."

Horsfield says: "Our clients are concerned that the granting of this right will create an expectation that other mining right applications in respect of SA's environmentally sensitive areas will be granted, even when those areas have protected status."

The eight organisations, acting in the public interest, were left with no option but to apply to the High Court for an order declaring the decision of the Minister (and the Director-General of the DMR before him) unlawful and setting these decisions.

MINING

FSE COMMENTS - Millsite Tailings Storage Facility Reclamation Project

Comments on the Millsite Tailings Storage Facility Reclamation Project: Wetland Sensitivity Mapping and Impact Assessment Freshwater Resource Assessment in the Vicinity of the Proposed Lindum Railway Decommissioning Freshwater Resource Assessment in the Vicinity of the Proposed Millsite Reclamation Surface Water Assessment Report Groundwater Assessment Report Integrated Water Use Licence Application for the Sibanye-Stillwater Rand Uranium/Cooke Operations Integrated Water and Waste Management Plan in support of the WULA   The following comments are submitted on behalf of the Federation for Sustainable Environment (FSE). The FSE is a federation of community based civil society organisations committed to the realisation of the constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to health or well-being, and to having the environment sustainably managed and protected for future generations. Their mission is specifically focussed on addressing the adverse impacts of mining and industrial activities on the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable and disadvantaged communities who live and work near South Africa’s mines and industries.  

Presentations at the conference "Sustainable Use of Abandoned Mines in the SADC Region"

Presentations, including the FSE’s presentation, held at the conference “Linki...

Palmietkuilen Coal Mining Project Rejected

The Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) has refused ...

SA NEWS

Battle to save Marico's river

De Beers has secured rights to prospect for kimberlite in the sensitive catchment of Groot Marico, but residents worry that minim firms could damage their pristine river, writes Sheree Bega

Saturday Star - No holds barred in draft National Master Plan for Water

Saturday Star January 27 2018 No holds barred in draft National Master Plan for Water   Sheree Bega   South Africa’s water scarcity could rapidly get worse as supply contracts and demand escalates due to growth, urbanisation, unsustainable use, degradation of wetlands, water losses and a decline in rainfall because of climate change. This is one of the warnings contained in the new draft National Master Plan for Water and Sanitation. Based on current demand projections, the water deficit confronting the country could be between 2.7 and 3.8 billion cubic metres, a gap of about 17%, by 2030. As of July last year, according to the draft plan, South Africa has consumed more water per capita at about 237 * /c/d than the world average of around 173 * /c/d. To address crippling water shortages, desalinated sea water in coastal areas, and treated waste water, will increasingly be brought into the water mix - together with an increase in the use of groundwater. Desalination plants should “not be implemented as an emergency scheme, only to be used intermittently or during times of drought and inadequate supply from the conventional water resources,” the draft plan cautions. “These schemes are too costly to be moth-balled for any length of time.”

THE IMPACT OF MINING ON THE SOUTH AFRICAN ECONOMY AND LIVING STANDARDS

  POLITICS WEB MINING AND PEOPLE: THE IMPACT OF MINING ON THE SOUTH AFRICAN ECONOMY AND LIVING STANDARDS INTRODUCTION AND SYNOPSIS There are two ways of looking at mining in South Africa. The first is to see it as a sunset industry plagued by rising costs, technical difficulties, and political hostility. The second is to see it as an industry well positioned for a new lease of life despite all the vicissitudes. Even though the attractiveness of South Africa for mining investment has declined, the country still has the world's richest reserves of precious minerals and base metals. Companies both large and small would like to exploit these. Some are doing so despite the political threats. Even more will do so if the threats can be effectively managed or reduced. According to the Chamber of Mines, investment over the next few years could almost double in the absence of threats.

FSE’s Preliminary Comments on the Minister of Water and Sanitation’s decision to consolidate the 9 Catchment Management Agencies into one Catchment Management Agency.

  (Reg. No. 2007/003002/08) NPO NUMBER 062986-NPO PBO No. (TAX EXEMPT) 930 039 506 Postnet Suite 87 Private Bag X033 RIVONIA 2128   COMMENTS ON THE DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND SANITATION’S DECISION TO IMPLEMENT A SINGLE CATCHMENT MANAGEMENT AGENCY (CMA) TO PERFORM WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT FUNCTION IN THE NINE WATER MANAGEMENT AREAS.  The following comments are submitted on behalf of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment. The Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) is a federation of community based civil society organisations committed to the realisation of the constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to health or well-being, and to having the environment sustainably managed and protected for future generations. The FSE’s mission is specifically focussed on addressing the adverse impacts of mining and industrial activities on the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable and disadvantaged communities who live and work near South Africa’s mines and industries.  

WATER

SUBMISSION ON THE DWS MASTER PLAN

WRITTEN SUBMISSION ON THE DRAFT 2.6: NATIONAL WATER AND SANITATION MASTER PLAN (NW&SMP)  In this document, the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (“FSE”) submits comments on the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan, draft 2.6 (the “draft plan”).  THE FSE:  The FSE is a federation of community based civil society organisations committed to the realisation of the constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to health or well-being, and to having the environment sustainably managed and protected for future generations. Their mission is specifically focussed on addressing the adverse impacts of mining and industrial activities on the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable and disadvantaged communities who live and work near South Africa’s mines and industries.    In accordance with the above-mentioned mission, the FSE’s comments are limited to matters pertaining to the mining industry. The FSE’s comments will be substantiated by real examples within the scope of the FSE’s experience and our active participation in a significant number of environmental impacts assessments, environmental management programme reports, water use license applications, environmental authorisations, steering committees, forums, task teams, teams of experts, academic research groups, boards, etc. over a period of 15 (fifteen years).[1] [1] Kindly note that the Legal Resources Centre assisted with this publication.

Coalition defending Mpumalanga water source area

Last week, the coalition of eight civil society and community organisations that...