High Court backs mine

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO NEWS - Tam­lyn Jolly

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.

Dis­puted

‘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.

Dave Sa­vides/Stock im­age

The Pi­eter­mar­itzburg High Court dis­missed with costs the in­ter­dict ap­pli­ca­tion brought against Ten­dele Coal Min­ing's Somkhele an­thracite mine in Mtu­batuba

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