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The Global Environmental Trust (GET) has led a High Court application against Tendele Mining as well as various government entities for non-compliance.
The applicants allege Tendele Mining’s Somkhele mine has been operating for 13 years without the required environmental authorisation.
Together with the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO) and Sabelo Dladla, a Somkhele resident and anti-mining activist, GET has based its application on investigations by Youens Attorneys, which reportedly revealed that the mine has not undertaken environmental impact assessments (EIA) and has none of the environmental authorisations required to operate.
The application calls for the High Court to stop operations until the mine is fully compliant.
The nine respondents named in the application are Tendele Mining Ltd, the Minister of Minerals and Energy, MEC:
Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mtubatuba Municipality, Hlabisa Municipality, Ingonyama Trust, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Amafa aKwaZulu-Natali Heritage Council.
The application orders the first respondent (Tendele Mining) to pay the application costs, together with any other respondent opposing it.
Respondents have been given until 8 November to notify Youens Attorneys of their opposition to the application.
‘Tendele Mining has never applied for, and therefore has never been issued with, any environmental authorisations under the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) or the old Environment Conservation Act with respect to its operations in Somkhele and surrounding areas,’ said Kirsten Youens of Youens Attorneys.
‘It has also never applied for, or been issued with, a waste management licence.
According to Tendele mine management, they are only obliged to comply with mining legislation.
GET also accuses Tendele of failure to comply with the KZN Heritage Act, pertaining to grave relocation permission.
‘Tendele cannot provide any comments in respect of the litigation or any of the questions posed, as Tendele has not had sight of the court papers,’ said Somkhele’s Chief Operating Officer Jarmie Steyn.
Commenting on an appeal filed last month by MCEJO to the Director-General of Mineral Resources against the decision to grant Tendele a new mining right, Steyn said an independent legal opinion sought by Somkhele stated
EAs were not required for NEMA incidental activities.
He said the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act did not require a mining right holder to obtain EAs in terms of NEMA prior to its effective date, and the impacts arising from all NEMA incidental activities undertaken, or intended to be undertaken by Tendele, are addressed in the Tendele Environmental Management Plan.
‘It is sad that a company that has invested R1.3-billion into its hosting community, providing more than 1 000 employment opportunities in an area where poverty and unemployment rates are extremely high, and which falls within the most regulated industry in South Africa, is targeted by activists who refuse to see any economic benefits and the bigger picture.’