Min­ing will com­ply with the rules, says Atha-Africa

Saturday Star - - NEWS -

PRAVEER Tri­pathi, the se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of Atha-Africa Ven­tures, says the fir m’s reg­u­la­tory ap­provals have been “painstak­ingly and me­thod­i­cally as­sessed” by three dif­fer­ent de­part­ments, sep­a­rately and jointly, over a pe­riod of al­most four years, with “un­prece­dented and flaw­less pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion”.

This will “en­sure that any per­ceived threat” to the func­tion­ing of the wet­land is ei­ther negated or mit­i­gated in the in­ter­ests of sus­tain­able and trans­for­ma­tive de­vel­op­ment to which Atha-Africa Ven­tures has been com­mit­ted from the out­set.

Even be­fore pre-min­ing, it con- tin­ued to con­duct ex­ten­sive quar­terly ground­wa­ter, bio­di­ver­sity and air qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing to es­tab­lish a base­line.

“Atha-Africa Ven­tures is con­fi­dent that its mit­i­ga­tion plans will en­sure that, by the time the life of a mine ends, the wet­land is at the same base­line con­di­tion if not bet­ter,” he said.

In his firm’s plea to Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion Min­is­ter Nomvula Mokonyane to waive its wa­ter li­cence sus­pen­sion, he states that the CER is “de­lib­er­ately sen­sa­tion­al­is­ing and dis­sem­i­nat­ing in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion and em­ploy­ing delib- er­ate de­lay tac­tics to halt its mine.

The firm “re­sents the con­tin­u­ing in­nu­endo” that it held an im­proper re­la­tion­ship with the rel­a­tives of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

“Atha-Africa Ven­tures has two black eco­nomic em­power ment share­hold­ers, namely South Africa In­dia Min­er­als, which holds 16% in Atha-Africa Ven­tures, and the holder of the 10% shares in Atha-Africa Ven­tures is Bashu­bile Trust.

“Sizwe Zuma is a ben­e­fi­ciary along with many oth­ers. Atha-Africa Ven­tures is aware of a fa­mil­ial con­nec­tion be­tween Sizwe Zuma and the pres­i­dent but this has not, and will not, in­flu­ence the busi­ness re­la­tion­ship be­tween Sizwe and Atha-Africa Ven­tures.”

Tri­pathi says con­struc­tion and min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties will com­ply with the reg­u­la­tions con­tained within the Min­eral and Pe­tro­leum Re­sources De­vel­op­ment Act. “Atha-Africa Ven­tures is in the pre-ten­der­ing phase and is un­able to pro­ceed fur­ther as its le­gal wa­ter use au­tho­ri­sa­tion has been sus­pended due to an ap­peal with the Wa­ter Tri­bunal.

“An ap­pli­ca­tion has been made for re­zon­ing (from agri­cul­tural to min­ing) and Atha-Africa Ven­tures does not fore­see any hur­dles as the com­pany has all the rel­e­vant min­ing and en­vi­ron­men­tal ap­provals.

The pro­posed coal mine has also been in­cluded in the Dr Pix­ley Ka Isaka Seme Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s in­te­grated de­vel­op­ment plan.”

On why WSP En­vi­ron­men­tal had been changed to EcoPart­ners, he says: “WSP En­vi­ron­men­tal and EcoPart­ners are in­de­pen­dent en­vi­ron­men­tal assess­ment prac­ti­tion­ers (EAPs).

“Atha-Africa Ven­tures did not re­place WSP with EcoPart­ners. When fur­ther stud­ies were re­quired by the Depart­ment of En­v­i­ron- men­tal Af­fairs, WSP in­di­cated to Atha-Africa Ven­tures that ad­di­tional work needed had not been fac­tored into the orig­i­nal contract so it could not con­tinue.

“This forced us to change the EAP. The al­le­ga­tion is false and ma­li­cious that Atha-Africa Ven­tures wanted a favourable re­port after the bio­di­ver­sity re­port (com­mis­sioned by WSP) from Nat­u­ral Sci­en­tific Ser­vices rec­om­mended the then im­pact as a ‘no go’.

“The same re­port was used (not a word changed) in fur­ther as­sess­ments but the im­pacts changed be­cause a new sur­face lay­out ex­cluded wash­ing and tail­ings fa­cil­i­ties on the site.

“In all the as­sess­ments by the de­part­ments, and in the pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion process, the same Nat­u­ral Sci­en­tific Ser­vices re­port was used.

“Atha-Africa Ven­tures there­fore strongly ob­jects to such false ac­cu­sa­tion.”

The to­tal work­force, of per­ma­nent and contract work­ers, for the Yz­er­mine is ex­pected to be about 550 peo­ple, in­clud­ing man­age­ment, “at full ramp-up”.

“For ev­ery per­son di­rectly em­ployed, an­other 10 peo­ple are ex­pected to ben­e­fit.”

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