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Sunday, 24 March 2019 10:41

FSE's ACTIVITES IN FEBRUARY 2019

The document is attached for download.

INFORMATION ON:

  1. The Gauteng EIA Sector Stakeholder Seminar, which was held on the 12 March 2019; and 
  2. The Department of Water and Sanitation, Directorate: National Water Resource Planning - Strategy Steering Committee (SSC) meeting for the continuation of the Integrated Vaal River System Reconciliation Strategy Study – Phase 2, which was held on the 13th of March, 2019.

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:

  • The Phased Activities Explanatory Document, updated in February 2015. 
  • Presentations from:

1.   EAPASA and 

2.   The Federation for a Sustainable Environment.

  • The following Explanatory documents: 
    • EIA Validity Period Explanatory Document
    • Clearance of Indigenous Vegetation  Explanatory Document
    • Decommissioning Explanatory Document
    • Regulation 54A Explanatory Document
  • The Activities and Time-Lines Document.  This document will assist in understanding Section 24G applications and / or identification of listed or specified activities (if any). 
  • DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT GAUTENG (GDARD) PROVINCIAL ENVIRONMENT MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK STANDARD
  • GDARD: Presentation of the Mapping of Environmental Decisions
  • Presentations by Department of Mineral Resources (North West, Western Cape and KZN) (attached) – unfortunately DMR (Gauteng Region) did not present
  • Presentations of DEA:
    • IPS and NEMA Section 24G
    • Waste Management Licencing 
    • CSPS Admin
    • EIAs 
  • Energy Applications Explanatory Document for GNR 779
    • Annexure A: Published Notice –GNR 779 of 1 July 2016
    • Annexure B: Electricity Regulations on New Generation Capacity
    • Annexure C: Renewable Energy Determination
    • Annexure D: Coal and Hydro Determination
    • Annexure E: Gas Determination
    • Annexure F: Cogeneration Determination
    • Annexure G: Nuclear Determination

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:

  1. Study Progress Overview
  2. Parallel National and International Processes
    1. National Water and Sanitation Master Plan
    2. ORASECOM Climate Resilient Water Resources Investment Strategy and L-BWT project
  3. Strategy Interventions (Current Status)
    1. Water conservation/water Demand Management (Urban Sector)
    2. Rand Water Project 1600
    3. City of Tshwane Water Resources Master Plan Implementation
    4. Irrigation Management

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

        1. Implementation of Long-Term AMD Solution
        2. Dilution Assessment
        3. Water Quality Management Strategy TOR

4. Water Balance Status

 

The FSE will supply the above-mentioned presentations on request.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019 14:37

FSE'S ARTICLES IN SPILPUNT

Click on the issues below to view FSE's articles in Spilpunt magazine.

(credit to Spilpunt magazine)

 

The FSE's comments on the Department of Environmental Affairs' Multi-Stakeholder Workshop - Dust Management Strategy is attached for download.

Monday, 25 February 2019 14:08

FSE 2018 INTEGRATED ANNUAL REPORT

The FSE Integrated Annual Report is attached for download.

Monday, 25 February 2019 13:48

A Battle to Hold Mining Company Accountable

A Battle to Hold Mining Company Accountable

Mintails left behind a R460 million ‘environmental mess’

Saturday Star | 23 Feb 2019 | SHEREE BEGA

Picture1

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.

Monday, 04 February 2019 18:06

New blow for would-be Mpumalanga coal miner

NEWS MPUMALANGA

New blow for would-be Mpumalanga coal miner

29 January 2019 | By John Yeld

Surprise move by MEC for Environmental Affairs Vusi Shongwe

mabola 1

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.

Monday, 04 February 2019 17:14

Tja Naledi Economic Impact Assessment Report

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.

Friday, 25 January 2019 08:43

De Beers withdraws Groot Marico application

De Beers withdraws Groot Marico application

SATURDAY STAR / 8 JANUARY 2019, 12:07PM / SHEREE BEGA

 

groot marico

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.

The Saturday Star

Page 12 of 20

MINING

Notification of the Withdrawal of the Application of an Amendment of the Environmental Authorisation and Environmental Management Programme for the Sweet Sensation Sand Mining Operation in Free State

The concerted efforts and submissions to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), the Applicant and its appointed Environmental Assessment Practitioner (EAP) by the Protect Vaal Eden Committee, Vaal Eden community, and the Federation for a Sustainable Environment have resulted in the withdrawal of the application of an amendment of the environmental authorisation and environmental management programme for the Sweet Sensation Sand Mining operation adjacent to the Vaal River.  The EAP was notified by the DMRE that further specialist studies would be required to determine the impact the application for a screening plant and process would have on the environment and that a Regulation 31 amendment process, which involves a public participation process, must be undertaken.  The FSE welcomes the DMRE’s notification. Notification letter attached for download

Pelicam Award for Jozi Gold

The Pelicam Film Festival in Rumania has awarded Jozi Gold a Special Mention.  ...

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Article also available for download as an attachment.

Radon Alert - Carte Blanche

Millions of South Africans are exposed to radioactive radon gas in their homes and workplaces every day, as the naturally occurring gas escapes through cracks in the earth. The second leading cause of lung cancer in several countries, radon breaks down and when inhaled, decaying atoms emit alpha radiation that can damage the DNA. There are no safe levels of radon concentration. The United States Environmental Protection Agency emphasises any radon exposure has some risk of causing lung cancer. Carte Blanche investigates why South Africa has no regulations to protect against radon accumulation in the home and what you can do to test your home and prevent lung cancer.   Watch the video here.

WITS Economics & Finance Courses: Mining for Development: The Taxation Linkage

Economics & Finance Courses at the University of the Witwatersrand. Mining for Development: The Taxation Linkage - Understand taxation for development and sustainability in mining. View the course here. Enrolment starts on the 7th of October 2019.

Mining activists in SA face death threats, intimidation and harassment - report

SATURDAY STAR | 19 APRIL 2019, 7:41PM | SHEREE BEGA Picture:Yvette Descham On August 13 2013, Billy M heard gunshots at the gate of his house. He didn't know who fired the gun, and, worried that local traditional leadership might be involved, he didn't report the incident to the police. For the next five years, the community activist from Fuleni, a small rural village in KwaZulu-Natal bordering one of SA's oldest and largest wilderness areas, the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, continued to receive threats.  "We know our lives are in danger. This is part of the struggle," he says, simply. Billy M's account is contained in a new report released this week, 'We know Our  Lives Are in Danger’: Environment of Fear in South Africa’s Mining-Affected Communities, which documents how community activists in mining areas face harassment, intimidation and violence. The report details how in Billy M's case, mining company Ibutho Coal had applied for rights to develop a coal mine in Fuleni in 2013. The development would have required the relocation of hundreds of people from their homes and farmland and destroy graveyards. "The mine's environmental impact assessment estimated that more than 6000 people living in the Fuleni area would be impacted. Blasting vibration, dust, and floodlights, too, could harm the community," says the report."During the environmental consultation processes, Billy M led opposition that culminated in a protest by community members in April 2016."The company reportedly abandoned the project in 2016 while another firm, Imvukuzane Resources is reportedly interested in mining in the area.The 74-page report, compiled by Human Rights Watch, the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), groundWork, and Earthjustice, describes a system designed to "deter and penalise" mining opponents.The authors conducted interviews with more than 100 activists, community leaders, environmental groups, lawyers representing activists, police and municipal officials, describing the targeting of community rights defenders in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Northwest, and Eastern Cape between 2013 and 2018. They report intimidation, violence, damage to property, the use of excessive force during peaceful protests, and arbitrary arrest for their activities in highlighting the negative impacts of mining projects on their communities. "The attacks and harassment have created an atmosphere of fear for community members who mobilise to raise concerns about damage to their livelihoods from the serious environmental and health risks of mining and coal-fired power plants," write the authors."Women often play a leading role in voicing these concerns, making them potential targets for harassment and attacks."But municipalities often impose barriers to protest on organisers that have no legal basis while government officials have failed to adequately investigate allegations of abuse."Some mining companies resort to frivolous lawsuits and social media campaigns to further curb opposition to their projects.  The government has a Constitutional obligation to protect activists," write the authors. Picture: Shayne Robinson, Section 27 Authorities should address the environmental and health concerns related to mining "instead of harassing the activists voicing these concerns,” remarks Matome Kapa, attorney at the CER.The report starts with the high-profile murder of activist Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, who was killed at his home after receiving anonymous death threats in 2016. Rhadebe was the chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC), a community-based organisation formed in 2007 to oppose mining activity in Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape.  "Members of his community had been raising concerns that the titanium mine that Australian company Mineral Commodities Ltd proposed to develop on South Africa’s Wild Coast would displace the community and destroy their environment, traditions, and livelihoods. More than three years later, the police have not identified any suspects in his killing."Nonhle Mbuthuma, another Xolobeni community leader and spokesperson of the ACC, has also faced harassment and death threats from unidentified individuals. "I know I am on the hit list.… If I am dying for the truth, then I am dying for a good cause. I am not turning back," she says.But other mining areas have had experiences similar to that of Xolobeni. "While Bazooka’s murder and the threats against Nonhle have received domestic and international attention, many attacks on activists have gone unreported or unnoticed both within and outside the  country."This is, in part, because of "fear of retaliation for speaking out, and because police sometimes do not investigate the attacks", the authors found.The origin of these attacks or threats are often unknown. "So are the perpetrators, but activists believe they may have been facilitated by police, government officials, private security providers, or others apparently acting on behalf of mining companies. "Threats and intimidation by other community members against activists often stem from a belief that activists are preventing or undermining an economically-beneficial mining project. In some cases, government officials or representatives of companies deliberately drive and exploit  these community divisions, seeking to isolate and stigmatize those opposing the mine."The Minerals Council South Africa, which represents 77 mining companies, including some in the research areas, responded that it “is not aware of any threats or attacks against community rights defenders where (its) members operate”.The authors state that while the mining sector and the government emphasise how mining is essential for economic development, "they fail to acknowledge that mining comes at a high environmental and social cost, and often takes place without adequate consultation with,or consent of, local communities".The absence of effective government oversight means that mining activities have harmed the rights of communities across South Africa in various ways. "Such activities have depleted water supplies, polluted the air, soil, and water, and destroyed arable land and ecosystems."Researchers also documented cases of police misconduct, arbitrary arrest, and excessive use of force during protests in mining-affected communities, "which is part of a larger pattern in South Africa".Last year, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) at Wits University documented various efforts by traditional authorities to stifle opposition to mines in their communities. "In some cases, traditional authorities label those opposing mines as anti-development and troublemakers, thus alienating and stigmatising them.As a result, community members are often afraid to speak out against a mine in open consultations," CALS found.Research by the SA Human Rights Commission, too, has found that community members sometimes “are afraid to openly oppose the mine for fear of intimidation or unfavourable treatment (by the Traditional Authority)."The SAHRC says many mining-affected communities are experiencing “the creation of tension and division within communities as a result of mining operations.Sometimes, threats and intimidation against activists come from community members who have been promised economic benefit from the proposed project or are politically allied with the government or traditional authority."Local communities often do not benefit from mining activities, says the report. "Although South African law requires the development of social and labour plans (SLPs) that establish binding commitments by mining companies to benefit communities and mine workers, CALS has documented significant flaws in the development and implementation of SLPs."Despite the environmental and social costs of mining, the government is not adequately enforcing relevant environmental standards and mining regulations throughout South Africa. The SAHRC has found that the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) often fails to hold mining companies accountable, "imposing few or no consequences for unlawful activities and therefore shifting the costs of pollution to local communities."Compliance with regulatory obligations, as well as monitoring and enforcement of such responsibilities, remains a crucial concern in the context of mining activities," says the SAHRC, noting how the DMR and other governmental agencies often do not respond to complaints filed against mines by community members.The report's authors describe how the lack of government action and oversight has also helped make the mining industry one of the least transparent industries in South Africa. Information that communities require to understand the impacts of mines and to hold mining companies accountable for harmful activities is often not publicly available. "Such information includes environmental authorisations, environmental management programs, waste management licences, atmospheric emission licences, mining rights, mining work programmes, social and labour plans, or compliance and enforcement information."The only way to access such information is through a request under South Africa’s access to information law, a procedure that the World Health Organisation has called 'seriously flawed' and which the DMR regularly flouts. In addition, mining companies and the government rarely consult meaningfully with communities during the mining approval process, resulting in uninformed and poor government and industry decisions that do not reflect community perspectives or have their support," says the report.The authors assert how the threats, attacks, and other forms of intimidation against community rights defenders and environmental groups have created an environment of fear "that prevents mining opponents from exercising their rights to freedom of opinion, expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and undermines their ability to defend themselves from the threats of mining".In its November 2018 review of South Africa’s compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed concern about “reports of human rights defenders, particularly those working to promote and defend the rights under the Covenant in the mining and environmental sectors, being threatened and harassed". It recommended that South Africa provide a safe and favourable environment for the work of human rights defenders to promote and protect economic, social, and cultural rights, including by "ensuring that all reported cases of intimidation, harassment, and violence against human rights defenders are promptly and thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators are brought to justice". Mining activist Mariette Liefferink, who made submissions to the UN committee, tells how it has become increasingly difficult to work as an environmental rights defender in South Africa.   "There is an overwhelming body of evidence of intimidation, whether it is by means of frontal attacks or more insidious attacks on activists."International and South African law requires South Africa to guarantee the rights of all people to life, security, freedoms of opinion, expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and the rights to health and a healthy environment, say the authors."The attacks, threats, and obstacles to peaceful protest described in this report prevent many community activists in South Africa from exercising these rights to oppose or raise concerns about mines, in violation of South Africa’s obligations." 

WATER

Development of the National Eutrophication Strategy and Supporting Documents

Attached documents:1. DWS Eutrophication SA & GA PSC 1 BID2. PSC 1 Meeting Agenda - Eutrophication Strategy3. Issues and Response Register - Inception Report Comments

Fears of long term damage to SA's water supply as eutrophication strangles rivers and dams | IOL

Toxic green algae in the Vaal River is caused by eutrophication, which harms wat...