Mining task team meeting a non-starter
SOMKHELE community members opposed to mining and Tendele Coal Mining bumped heads yet again on Monday, leading to the cancellation of a Department of Minerals’ meeting to address the issue.
The meeting, organised after Minister of Minerals Gwede Mantashe’s recent visit to Somkhele mine near Mtubatuba, was scheduled for two days, but was postponed before it could properly get under way.
Following serious community concerns expressed during Mantashe’s visit on 22 September, the department created a task team to meet with all parties concerned and attempt to pave a way forward.
Community members who feel aggrieved over alleged human rights issues perpetrated by the mine, were unhappy at the outset on Monday and said the meeting’s agenda ‘showed complete disregard for the people who suffer on a daily basis’.
They said the agenda gave the floor to Tendele, and included items that raised sub judice issues pending the outcome of the Pietermaritzburg High Court application relating to Tendele allegedly operating without required environmental, land planning or waste management licences.
Further issues were raised over the venue choice and size, lack of transport provided and the personal cost to community members to attend the meeting.
Mtubatuba Mayor, Velangenkosi Gumede, called for the postponement of the meeting, which was also attended by traditional and local government structures and the Mpukunyoni Community Mining Forum (MCMF).
The latter reportedly objected to the presence of anti-mining community members who are in litigation against the mine.
Objections included that those against the mine would not engage constructively and that they refused to engage with representative structures.
After the meeting’s postponement, the Department of Minerals’ representatives confirmed that a follow-up session would be scheduled in due course.