Business / Business News

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
6 Jun 2017
5:37 am

Court tells Zwane to look at Mpumalanga mine appeal again

Ilse de Lange

The court granted a punitive costs order against the mining minister and his department.

Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane. Picture: Gallo Images

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has been given a month to have a fresh look at the appeal of a Mpumalanga cherry farmer and the Federation for a Sustainable Environment against coal mining rights granted to Exxaro Coal on a neighbouring farm.

The High Court in Pretoria set aside the minister’s failure to deal with the appeal of the federation and farmer Jacobus Pretorius’ company, Highlands Organics, against the granting of an amended environmental programme in favour of Exxaro Mpumalanga and ordered the minister to decide on the appeal within the next 30 days.

The court also granted a punitive costs order against the minister and his department for their failure to make a decision, despite repeated requests.

Pretorius said in court papers he had lodged appeals against the mining rights granted to Exxaro to mine coal on properties immediately adjacent to his farm and the approval of an environmental programme, as well as an amendment to the programme granted in January 2015.

He alleged Exxaro had failed to inform or to consult with him and the federation about amendments to the environmental programme, despite being aware of their pending appeal.

He said the amendments would have a profound influence on his farming activities, as well as the environment, yet were apparently approved without a public participation process or affected parties being given an opportunity to comment.

The importer of his cherries into the United Kingdom had already stated that should the coal mine commence, it would no longer import any of the cherries produced on his farm and the loss in water resources and dust pollution would make the operation too high risk to continue, he added.

He said his company’s farming operations would be devastated by the impact of the mine since much of the area being farmed would be mined.

Pretorius said he and the federation needed finality in relation to their farming enterprises while Exxaro also needed finality in order to plan for a multibillion-rand development.