Is Kropz closer to its goal?

Af­ter grap­pling with en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, the miner, which hopes to ex­tract phos­phate in the Western Cape, is still wait­ing to be granted water and emis­sions li­cences.

Finweek English Edition - - THE WEEK -

when­last we left Kropz, a com­pany in which Pa­trice Mot­sepe’s African Rain­bow Cap­i­tal has shares, it was tar­get­ing March for first pro­duc­tion of phos­phate fer­tiliser from Elands­fontein, a 1.5m-tonne-a-year project ( Con­tro­versy afoot with miner Kropz, 8 De­cem­ber 2016 edi­tion).

Tech­ni­cally, the project was pro­gress­ing. The risk to Elands­fontein, how­ever, was the op­po­si­tion of en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists such as the West Coast En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (WCEPA), which ob­jected to an en­vi­ron­men­tal au­tho­ri­sa­tion (EA) granted to Kropz by the de­part­ment of min­eral re­sources (DMR) in 2014 when dif­fer­ent rules gov­ern­ing the per­mit were in place.

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists sub­se­quently ap­plied to take the DMR to the High Court, ar­gu­ing that the grant was ir­reg­u­lar and that ex­ca­va­tion at Elands­fontein would lead to pol­lu­tion of an aquifer that pro­vides the ground­wa­ter be­tween the mine and the Lange­baan La­goon, which is right next door.

SANParks weighed in on the is­sue, ar­gu­ing that one of the out­stand­ing per­mits Kropz was still to re­ceive – an In­te­grated Water Use Li­cence (IWUL) – ought not be granted by the DMR.

The DMR is yet to file its an­swer­ing af­fi­davit to the High Court ac­tion and un­til that is lodged, there’s no know­ing if the pre­sid­ing judge will say whether the mat­ter should pro­ceed to court. How­ever, the per­mits, not the pos­si­ble court case, are the press­ing is­sue at the mo­ment.

Michelle Lawrence, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of Kropz, said cor­re­spon­dence with the de­part­ment of water and san­i­ta­tion, the en­tity that grants the IWUL, had been cor­dial, but she added that a late change in the de­sign of the Elands­fontein plant re­quires an air emis­sions li­cence from the de­part­ment of en­vi­ron­men­tal af­fairs.

“It’s a late de­sign change which re­quires us to in­stall a dryer. There are other min­ing com­pa­nies still op­er­at­ing with­out an emis­sions li­cence but we don’t want to be one of them,” Lawrence told fin­week.

In the mean­time, it looks as if Elands­fontein will al­most cer­tainly miss its March com­mis­sion­ing date and not just be­cause reg­u­la­tory clear­ances are out­stand­ing. “We are still busy with some con­struc­tion work. We are very close but there’s still some de­vel­op­ment tak­ing place,” she said.

Right now, there’s no pres­sure on Kropz’s work­ing cap­i­tal, but Lawrence ac­knowl­edges that Elands­fontein’s lenders do need to see phos­phate de­liv­ered to the port at some point in the near fu­ture.

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