Concern over proposed coal mining bordering Crocodile River (updated)

A mining application by Manzolwandle Investments to mine coal in an area covering 18 000 ha bordering the Kruger National Park, the Crocodile River and including several nature reserves and agricultural land, has sparked interest and concern from the business owners and residents in and near Marloth Park.

A meeting was called by NECCTA and the Malalane Chamber for Thursday last week and was co-hosted by Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism (KLCBT) to whom both organisations and the Nkomazi Tourism Association are affiliated.

Linda Grimbeek, COO of KLCBT directed the meeting at the Komatipoort Golf Club which was attended by over 300 members of the community and business community.  The purpose of the meeting was to inform the concerned citizens on the processes and steps surrounding such application and also to point out the possible problem areas they should be aware of. 

Having experience with a recent application of this nature, Mr Robert Davel from Mpumalanga Agriculture was called upon to provide the background information.  He explained that there are five components to an application, being the Environmental Impact Assessment, the Labour component, Economic Impact, Land affairs and Safety.

Some of the laws that come into play are the Mineral Rights Act, the Water Act, Bio Diversity, Protected Areas and municipal By-Laws.

Davel stated that from their experience in the Highveld, “farming is not good next to a mining operation”.  He said it is important to look at the procedures the applicant has to follow after the application is received by the Department of Mineral Rights.  This has to be monitored closely from day one.

The Department will issue an Article 10 notice (this is where this process is right now), and then all interested affected parties can register.  Duval further suggested that this is not only your right but your responsibility to register if you are an affected party in any way. 

Separate consultation processes for the different impact areas should be arranged, of which one is the Environmental Impact Assessment. 

The meeting resolved that:  1)  Everybody concerned should register as an interested and affected party;  2)  Get a copy of the draft environmental impact assessment and ask for postponement of the public meeting because it was not available to be studied;  3)  Get in touch with a suitable lawyer to assist the process on behalf of the interested and affected parties.

A public meeting was scheduled for Sunday, 30 June at 08h00 for parties to comment on the draft Environmental Impact Assessment, which seemed to be inconvenient for most of the registered parties, but even after they requested a more convenient date and time, the meeting was still going ahead.  Until Sunday morning, the Draft Environmental Impact Study was still not available and the meeting went ahead without parties being able to study the content.

There is now verbal promise from the applicant that another meeting will be held after the documentation is made available.

Meanwhile, some supporting documents to the EIA was made available at the Library, but those seemed to have raised more questions than answers.

Grimbeek stated today that it will not be fair to provide information about the flawed supporting documents because the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment was not formally available for comment.

Update on 3 July 2019:

A representative delegation of the interested and affected party met with well-known attorney, Richard Spoor yesterday.  Mr Spoor was instructed to request the application documents which was submitted to the Department of Energy.  The content of the document will provide direction on how to go forward and address some of the immediate concerns like where will the funding come from, where will the water come from, what is the rehabilitation plan, etc.