M’LANGA FARMERS CHALLENGE MINING LICENCE WITH INTERDICT

1share Tweet1 Share0 Share Share0 Print0 Email0A GROUP OF FARMERS IN THE CAROLINA area in Mpumalanga have taken legal action against minerals and energy minister Buyelwa Sonjica and Black Gold […]

A GROUP OF FARMERS IN THE CAROLINA area in Mpumalanga have taken legal action against minerals and energy minister Buyelwa Sonjica and Black Gold Coal Estates (BGCE) after the minister approved a mining licence allowing the company to mine coal on the farm Lusthof.
The farmers claim BGCE and the department of minerals and energy (DME) failed to follow the correct environmental protection procedures.
The farm is located in the famous Tevrede se Pan wetland, and according to studies and research done by the farmers, mining on the farm will have irreversible effects on the surrounding environment and water supplies.
The group of farmers, called the Mpumalanga Lakes District Protection Group (MLDPG), have acquired an interdict preventing any mining from taking place until a resolution is achieved in court.
Earlier this year Farmer’s Weekly reported on the farmers’ concerns that illegal prospecting by BGCE had taken place on the farm last year and that the company had failed to complete a legitimate environmental impact assessment (EIA). The DME assured the farmers that the matter would be settled.
But at the end of June BGCE returned to the farm with a mining licence approved by Sonjica. Hannes Botha, son of farm owner Johan Botha, said he found BGCE directors on his farm and that a 74ha area had been marked out where they intended to start mining.
“They phoned us at the end of June and said that they had a licence to mine and offered to buy the farm, but we refused. I said they couldn’t mine here but they ignored me and pitched up a week later at my farm,” said Hannes Botha.
“We said ‘no’ to selling our farm or allowing them to mine because there were so many shortcomings in their EIA and it didn’t meet the regulations. The damage which the mine will cause to the surrounding environment and water supplies will be irreversible,” he said.
“A bulldozer arrived but I refused the people entry so they left, saying they would take legal action. So that’s when we decided to seek legal advice and got the interdict,” said Botha.
MLDPG secretary Koos Pretorius, who also farms in the area, said he has requested all the paperwork from the DME which approved the mining licence. “They have only given us a few pages and have not given us an EIA signed by the minister yet either,” he said.
Botha said that they also requested the minutes of the meetings held during the authorisation process between the DME and BGCE. “We want to see how they came to this decision considering there were so many shortcomings in the process,” said Botha.
BGCE representatives and Sonjica’s spokesperson were unavailable for comment. – Gavin Grobbelaar