Coast KZN

21 Feb 2018

Anti-mining activists preparing for battle

Tamlyn Jolly (Zululand Observer) Picture: Somkhele anthracite mine near Mtubatuba, operated by Tendele Mining Ltd has expanded in recent years

Activists say both the community and environment are suffering irreparable harm

Anti-mining activists are readying for a fight as their court hearing against Tendele Mining Ltd and Others is set for 24 August.

Arguing that Tendele, owners of the Somkhele opencast anthracite mine near Mtubatuba, is operating unlawfully for a number of reasons, the Global Environmental Trust (GET) requested the court grant an interdict preventing Tendele from operating until the applicable legislation is complied with.

GET’s legal team claims no environmental authorisation in terms of NEMA has been issued for any mining sites for which mining rights have been issued; that Tendele has never obtained municipal permission to conduct mining; that no waste management licenses have been obtained, and Somkhele residents are suffering irreparable harm.

‘The mining activity will, in its ultimate full-blown authority of the whole of Reserve 3 in excess of 222 square kilometres, destroy the environment and the amenity of all who live there and for the public at large,’ said GET in a statement.

Tendele rejects these allegations and has filed an answering affidavit opposing the interdict.

‘We are confident of our legal position and will seek to have the court date brought forward if possible, in order to resolve this matter as soon as possible,’ said Tendele HR Manager, Davie Coetzee.

‘The mine is continuing to work with the MCMF (Mpukunyoni Community Mining Forum), consisting of various representatives from Mpukunyoni, including the Inkosi, Izinduna, chairpersons of each area committee, Mtubatuba mayor and local businesses.

‘We have the full support of these structures and the majority of people – all Izigodies – to fight against a court case that will breach the right to work and earn a living as well as bring endless poverty to the community, the more than 1 200 employees, other contractors and their employees as well as people down the supply chain.’

GET denies such employment by the mine within the local community, stating just 100 locals are employed at Somkhele.

Environmentally, GET claims it is impossible for opencast mining to be done without environmental devastation and said river water as well as the land and air are contaminated.

GET is also questioning the community’s 20% stake in Somkhele mine, and said the community has not benefited.