News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
1 minute read
14 Jul 2017
6:10 am

Belfast coal case drags on

Ilse de Lange

The high court in April this year gave Mineral Resources Minister Zwane 30 days to consider the internal appeals lodged by Eepog and Birdlife.

Mining file picture.

An application by the Federation for a Sustainable Environment to stop coal mining-related activities in an environmentally sensitive area in the Belfast district, Mpumalanga, has been postponed indefinitely in the High Court in Pretoria.

Judge Peter Mabuse gave the water and sanitation and agriculture ministers, the Emakhazeni municipality, the water tribunal and mining group William Patrick Bower (WPB) until mid-July to file opposing papers.

The federation wants the court to stop WPB from conducting any mining activities on two farms in the district, pending the final disposal of a review application by the Escarpment Environment Protection Group (Eepog) and Birdlife SA against the mining right granted to WPB.

The federation also wants to ensure WPB may not start mining activities before obtaining permission for the change of land use, a rezoning certificate and environmental authorisation.

It wants the court to instruct the relevant authorities to take steps to enforce WPB’s compliance with the legislation.

The high court in April this year gave Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane 30 days to consider the internal appeals lodged by Eepog and Birdlife against the mining right granted to WPB, failing which it would be deemed a dismissal entitling the environmental groups to approach the court for relief.

Belfast veterinary surgeon and farmer Jacobus Pretorius said that to date, no reasons or submissions had been received from the department.

He said it also appeared that WPB had already started with the construction of roads and the clearing of vegetation on the property.

When the Centre for Environmental Rights asked authorities to urgently investigate the activities and to act to prohibit the unauthorised activities, they received no response.