The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) has issued a notification of suspension to Mintails’ operations at its Princess pit, resulting in suspended mining activities of its hard rock and open pit operations.

The decision was taken following the department’s preliminary investigation into operations at Mintails, which found the company to have breached sections of both the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act and the Mine Health and Safety Act and was in contravention of its right to mine.

“We take this matter extremely seriously, and therefore the company cannot operate, because effectively, they have not met the conditions of their mining license,” Minister Shabangu said.

Some of these infringements include no warning signs around the pit area to prevent unauthorised access, mining operations are taking place with a major power line situated 100 metres from the highwall of the eastern side of the pit, and failure to implement the approved Social and Labour Plan, with emphasis on human resource development and local economic development.

Furthermore, the investigation has revealed concerns about the environmental impacts of opencast mining in close proximity to residential areas, and more particularly the public safety risks associated with tremors, percussion and fly rock resulting from site specific actions and activities are not provided for in the approved Environmental Management Programme.

Mintails has since issued a statement saying that it believes it has been compliant with all relevant regulations, but will continue to work with the DMR and officials to ensure full compliance. “The Company takes compliance and its corporate responsibility seriously and is optimistic that it will be able to resume operations with a minimal delay.”

Mintails will continue to process available stockpiled material as well as tailings as these operations do not fall within the suspension notification of hard rock mining operations.