Johannesburg, South Africa — 15 April 2013 South African national power utility Eskom Holdings has been buying coal for more than two years from no fewer than 19 South African coal mines which do not have their required water licenses.
South African daily newspaper Beeld reports that under the National Water Act it is illegal for a mine to start up and operate without a water license, according to Fin24.
According to the newspaper, Eskom has blamed the Department of Water Affairs, and says the water licenses should be issued.
“Between November 2012 and March 31, 2013, none of the providers (at the Department of Water Affairs) who lodged applications for a water licence received their licenses,” Eskom spokesperson Hilary Joffe told the newspaper.
Eskom had in the past reportedly stressed repeatedly that it bought coal only from legitimate mines which met all environmental requirements.
Beeld reported that, in reply to a parliamentary question about Eskom, public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba said it was prerequisite for Eskom that the mines from which it purchased coal complied fully with environmental legislation.
The department had since acknowledged that some mines were without licenses and were illegally mining coal. However, it argued that the department was struggling with an administrative backlog which prevented it from issuing licenses in time.
Water Affairs spokesperson Sputnik Ratau told the newspaper that nobody should mine without a water license. “It’s illegal,” he said.
Eskom reportedly refused to give Beeld the names of the offending mines.
Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.