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MEC dismisses appeal against coal mine’s environmental authorisation

India-based Atha-Africa Ventures (A-AV) has welcomed the dismissal by Mpumalanga’s MEC for agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs, Vusi Shongwe, of an appeal by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) against the environmental authorisation granted to the company’s planned Yzermyn coal mine near Piet Retief.

In a letter to the CER dated 23 November 2017, Shongwe stated:

  • He was satisfied that the required public participation process, conducted ahead of the granting of the environmental authorisation, was in accordance with applicable environmental impact assessment regulations.
  • Due cognisance was taken of all the views of interested and affected parties.
  • With regard to the planned coal mine’s location in relation to the Mabola protected environment, A-AV had mitigated the potentially negative impact by mining underground and thus reducing the mining footprint to 22 hectares.
  • Surface infrastructure will be located outside of the protected environment in an area previously disturbed by agricultural and historic mining activities.
  • Mining will enhance the developing export market for South African products and services, and inject much-needed foreign direct investment into the country for greater good.

An environmental management committee (EMC) will be established to oversee the construction and operation phases of the project.

The departments of Mineral Resources, Water and Sanitation, Environmental Affairs, and Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs, as well as the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency will be represented in this EMC.

The committee will monitor compliance with permits, authorisations and licences issued to the mine, and the implementation of the social and labour plan for the benefit of severely impoverished local communities within the Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme and Mkhondo local municipalities.

“Atha-Africa welcomes the decision by the MEC to dismiss the emotional, unscientific and anti-developmental appeal brought by the CER on behalf of eight NGOs,” said senior VP of Atha-Africa Ventures Praveer Tripathi.

“We hope that the litigants will work together with us and the local impoverished communities to transform the lives of the poorest of the poor,” he continued.

“The communities of the Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme Local Municipality have always supported this development, he added.

“Again, we sincerely extend an invitation to the various NGOs opposed to this project to partner with us in the EMC for the benefit of the environment and socio-economic development,” Tripathi concluded.

Feature image credit: Wikimedia