Mining will comply with the rules, says Atha-Africa
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.”