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Miner says it won’t mine on rhino zone border for now

May 11 2017 17:32
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town - Anthracite mining firm Petmin said it won’t mine within 5km of a KwaZulu-Natal park that protects the endangered white rhino until new methods are found and approved by government.

The response follows a protest outside its headquarters in Johannesburg on Monday as Petmin shareholders approved a decision to delist the company from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in June.

The protestors want private investors including Investec, Old Mutual and Barclays Bank to divest from the firm completely.

READ: Rhino threat persists as Petmin agrees to delist from JSE

“Tendele (a subsidiary of Petmin) has expressed interest in mining 500 metres from the boundary of the iMfolozi Wilderness area resulting in hundreds of people being relocated and threatening the integrity of the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, the first game reserve declared in Africa 120 years ago, as a sanctuary for the last remaining Southern White Rhino in 1897,” 350.org said in a statement.

However, Petmin financial director Bruce Tanner told Fin24 on Monday that this is “factually incorrect”.

“Of the known coal resources in Petmin’s tenements, the only resource that has been identified within the iMfolozi Wilderness Area’s requested 5km buffer zone is Area 3.

“Tendele does not include Area 3 in its planned future mining areas as ‘Area 3, which is adjacent to the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, needs to be evaluated for its environmental impact and its possible inclusion into the Coal Reserves’,” he said, citing a circular to shareholders.

“Tendele upholds a relationship of collaboration and transparency, and has undertaken to ‘inform and consult with Ezemvelo and/or Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, as was done in this case, regarding projects or proposals in future before any regulatory submissions will be considered by the mine. “

“We have repeatedly undertaken to not make any regulatory submissions related to Area 3 without first consulting the park and we have clearly stated that we won’t do anything that will endanger the park.

“What we have said is that we will continue to investigate new technology that may make this viable in a way that won’t affect the park (as we did earlier this year where we took a proposed new mining method for the Park to review) and we will bring these studies to the park first for their consideration.”

He said Tendele operates in an extremely impoverished and disadvantaged community near Mtubatuba, KwaZulu Natal, where basic needs are a daily challenge, including water shortages, high unemployment, and low levels of education.

“It is a key aspect of Petmin’s operational philosophy to develop and maintain sound relationships with its surrounding communities and key stakeholders and to assist these communities where possible.”  

350.org said environmental lawyer Kirsten Youens believes Tendele's expansion under section 102 of the MPRDA requires a Public Participation Process for people living on the land to have the opportunity to comment. “Tendele has failed to do this,” it said.

However, Tanner said Youens is “factually incorrect”.

“Tendele’s s102 application for expansion into the KwaQubuka and Luhlanga areas is lawful. We have held extensive public consultation before commencing mining in these areas and we have followed due process.”

petmin  |  mining
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