Cape Times

Corobrik not in coal mining business, says its CEO

- TAWANDA KAROMBO

CLAY MINING and brick manufactur­er Corobrik says it has no intentions of venturing into coal mining after drilling activities unearthed deposits of the energy mineral, sparking widespread concerns over possible environmen­tal hazards.

Environmen­talists had been concerned that any coal mining at Corobrik’s operation would have resulted in environmen­tal hazards, with the possibilit­y of acid mine drainage into the nearby Rietvlei Nature Reserve.

Green Peace is currently circulatin­g a petition against the proposed coal removal from Corobrik’s Rietvlei operation.

According to Birdlife Northern Gauteng, the approval for coal-mining activities was granted despite the fact that “the acid mine drainage into the Rietvlei Nature Reserve, the dam and wetland may have a serious adverse impact” on birds and other fauna relying on the wetland.

Yesterday Corobrik CEO Nick Booth said the brick maker was not interested in long-term coal mining at the operation.

“We are not in the coal mining business and have no intention to do so,” he said.

Corobrik has been operating the open cast clay production facility adjacent to the Rietvlei Nature Reserve for more than 30 years.

The recent uncovering of “a coal overburden at the mine” has, however, sparked the controvers­y over the potential environmen­tal impacts of coal mining at the operation.

According to Corobrik, the clay deposit layer at the mine is “sandwiched between two coal layers”, adding that these needed to be removed which would entail some form of mining for the coal.

“We knew there was coal in the quarry, as we are constantly measuring our clay reserves and constantly planning the next segment of our clay-mining operation. Drilling ahead of the face to obtain an exact understand­ing of where the clay deposits were situated resulted in the discovery of coal,” explained Booth.

Corobrik’s plans for the removal of the coal layer to access its clay deposit as well as the subsequent granting of a mining licence by the Department of Minerals and Energy (DMRE) to mine above-ground coal from untapped surface deposits at its Rietvlei operation had further stoked speculatio­n.

However, Corobrik’s existing mining right applies only to clay, although the DMRE has requested the brickmaker to submit a retroactiv­e applicatio­n in terms of its proposed Environmen­tal Impact Assessment.

The DMRE requested Corobrik to officially apply for a coal mining licence to mine the coal and have it removed.

Corobrik had applied to the DMRE as early as 2022 to obtain a licence to mine the coal, so as to remove it and secure ongoing access to the clay reserves present, the company said.

“Our commercial considerat­ion is that the coal is now overlying the carbonaceo­us clay deposits we need to utilise for our brickmakin­g operation at Rietvlei,” said Booth.

Corobrik was set to appoint a contractor to mine for the coal overburden and ensure its proper removal and disposal.

“The other factor that needs to be taken into considerat­ion is that while out coal estimates are only within seven years, we will be mining clay for the next 35 years. This means that our Rietvlei factory will continue to be a viable clay brick making factory until at least 2050,” explained Booth.

 ?? ?? COROBRIK CEO Nick Booth says the brick maker is not interested in long-term coal mining at the operation. | SUPPLIED
COROBRIK CEO Nick Booth says the brick maker is not interested in long-term coal mining at the operation. | SUPPLIED

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