ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES - William Bower open cast coal mine - application for a licence to mine

Environmental issue/project: William Bower open cast coal mine - application for a licence to mine
Date: 2011-06-20

Name of person reporting: Peter Arderne
Email address: mwardern@mweb.co.za
Phone: 083 4577478

Description of issue:

The applicant wishes to operate an open cast coal mine approximately 7 km to the north east of Belfast, Mpumalanga on the farms Groenvlei and Lakensvlei. This would threaten the headwaters and water users of the Elands River which flows east towards Machadodorp, Waterval Boven and Nelspruit and the Lakensvleispruit, a tributary of the Steelpoort/Olifants River system. A previous application by JKC mining on the same property was turned down in 2009.

Review of Issue
Date:
2011-09-01
On 29/08/2011 the consultants for this project, Menco, held a public participation meeting in Belfast in order to review the EIA. The meeting was well attended and the general opinion of those attending was that this project was fatally flawed. Strong objections to this project are currently being submitted to Menco (deadline today) and to the DMR where the deadline is end September.

Review of Issue
Date:
2011-09-01
The consultants for this project, Menco, held the second public participation meeting in Belfast on 29/08/2011 to review the EIA. Stakeholders attending were virtually unanimous in their comments during the meeting that most aspects of the project which is in the scoping phase were fatally flawed. The documentation will now be submitted to the DMR by Menco and the many objections to the project must be submitted to Menco by today or to the DMR Witbank by end September.

Review of Issue
Date:
2012-02-13
The RMDEC meeting at DMR Witbank took place this week on Tuesday 7th Feb after this meeting arranged for late last year had been cancelled twice by the DMR, both times at very late notice . Amongst other items the WPB Coal Mine application was on the agenda. It was attended by a number of people opposing the application including among others the MTPA, Dr Koos Pretorius, and EWT. The chairman, a DMR official, gave the delegation opposing the application a “tongue lashing” stating he had no concern for “frogs and things” and was only focused on developing the economy because the country needs coal. The applicants (WPB) joined the fray with gusto calling the delegation “just weekend farmer greenies who are anti-mining activists” and contending there are only about 10 hospitality workers around the locality. The delegation responded with great vigour to these outrageous remarks and scored some good points, but they were still very disappointed by the very prejudiced remarks of the DMR appointed chairperson. This RMDEC meeting will be discussed at the next meeting of the SEI coalition on 15/02/2012.

Review of Issue
Date:
2012-10-13
As it is believed that DMR Witbank will recommend to the Minister that both this application and the Ibhubesi diamond mine application be approved a lawyers letter has been sent to the DMR insisting that we be advised of the decision. Copies of these letters have been sent to the legal department of DMR Pretoria and the applicants.

Review of Issue
Date:
2013-03-05
We have now been advised that a mining right has been issued and we will now have to decide whether to appeal this decision which could cost as much as R60 000 and must be done within 30 days of 27/02/2013. We must also consider whether to appeal the Environmental Plan when this becomes available while following up with Water Affairs as to whether a water use permit has been issued. The issue of this mining right is an extremely serious threat to the environmental integrity of the area and a serious threat to all water users downstream towards Machododorp and further in the Elands River catchment.

Review of Issue
Date:
2013-05-29
An appeal was submitted by Dr Koos Pretorius 2 months ago which cost only R500. Although the DMR should have replied within 30 days nothing has been received from them despite several reminders. It is now highly likely that the matter will go to court as the CER have agreed to take the case.

Review of Issue
Date:
2013-11-20
This mining right is now the subject of 3 appeals, none of which have been responded to by the DMR. In addition the CER, on behalf of Birdlife SA, wrote to a letter to the Minister Water Affairs pointing out that the application for a water use permit had not been preceded by a public participation process. No response received to this letter either.

Review of Issue
Date:
18-05-2015
3 appeals have been lodged against the issue of a coal mining right to WPB Bower colliery. A response is required from the DMR within 30 days but despite the fact that over 6 months have elapsed nothing has been heard from the DMR.

Review of Issue
Date:
29 November 2015
WPB Colliery granted a water use licence earlier this month. At least 2 appeals will be lodged opposing the granting of the permit.

Review of Issue
Date:
2016-09-26
We believe that the miner has finally given up on account of delays caused by our appeals etc. This has resulted in funders withdrawing support.

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