High Court backs mine
THREE months of waiting led to an unexpected outcome on Monday as the Pietermaritzburg High Court handed down the judgement in the interdict application brought by various anti-mining activist groups against Tendele Coal Mining.
The application brought by Sabelo Dladla, the Global Environmental Trust (GET) and Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO) was dismissed with costs.
‘I conclude that the applicants have failed to make a proper case for the relief claimed,’ said Judge Seegobin.
‘The applicants did not afford the authorities concerned the opportunity to investigate the complaints before deciding to institute these proceedings.’
He also said that the applicants’ allegations were vague, unsubstantiated and generalised, and they failed to give clear evidence substantiating their claims against the mine.
The judgement also argued that, as Tendele’s operations began before the implementation of the ‘one mining system’, there was no need for the mine to have obtained environmental authorisation and that an EMP (Environmental Management Plan) was sufficient.
‘Consequently, there were clearly no grounds to challenge the mine’s operations,’ said Seegobin.
GET and MCEJO in August sought a court interdict to restrain Tendele Coal Mining from continuing operations at its Somkhele mine in Mtubatuba until environmental laws, which they claim the mine is flouting, are complied with.
The organisations claim the mine has violated the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) by operating without environmental authorisations, a waste management licence, land use authorisations and municipal approval.
‘The judgement is extremely punitive in awarding costs when it is clear that a mining affected community supported by an NGO brought this application in an effort to ensure that Tendele Mine is compliant, in the public interest,’ said the organisations’ spokesperson, Sheila Berry.
‘This will not go unchallenged.’ ‘Far from being demoralised, GET and MCEJO see this as an important opportunity to take the matter to higher judicial authorities starting with the Supreme Court and even to the Constitutional Court, if necessary, to ensure justice is done and that the law applies to all,’ said the organisations’ attorney, Kirsten Youens.
‘Our legal team still has to review the detail, but this is great news,’ said Tendele Chief Operating Officer, Jarmi Steyn.
‘Tendele agrees and accepts the outcomes of the case, and appreciates the judge’s ruling.’
Steyn said the money spent on the case could have been put to better use, including building homes for community members or providing training for unemployed people.
She also said they are trying to resolve community issues so the mine can expand as it has at least another 10 years’ lifespan.
The Pietermaritzburg High Court dismissed with costs the interdict application brought against Tendele Coal Mining's Somkhele anthracite mine in Mtubatuba