National 29.6.2017 06:30 am

Coal mining in protected area halted

The coalition is now planing a judicial review against the mining minister’s decision to allow mining in a protected area.

A coalition of civil society and community organisations has won a crucial concession from an Indian mining company against a new coal mine inside the Mabola Protected Environment outside Wakkerstroom, in Mpumalanga.

The coalition, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights, on Tuesday brought an urgent application in the High Court in Pretoria to stop Indian-owned mining company Atha-Africa Ventures from commencing with any mining activities in the protected area without environmental authorisation and local planning approval.

The court yesterday granted an order in terms of an agreement, recording that Atha-Africa had given a written undertaking to the coalition that it would not commence any mining or mining-related activities before giving the coalition’s attorneys three weeks’ written notice.

Though Atha-Africa initially sought a punitive costs order against the coalition, it agreed to pay its own costs.

The head of the centre’s mining division, Catherine Horsfield, said the concession was important because the coalition was challenging all the licences granted for the proposed new coal mine.

Atha and the coalition did not agree about what licences the mine would require.

“In view of the irreversible damage that would be caused by mining in this important area [which falls within the Ekangala-Drakensberg strategic water source area] the coalition will take all steps necessary to prevent mining from commencing, including further court proceedings,” she said.

Horsfield said the coalition had launched a judicial review of the mining right and was waiting for a hearing of its appeal against the environmental authorisation before a panel that would advise the Mpumalanga Environment MEC.

An appeal against the water use licences is pending before the Water Tribunal and the coalition plans a judicial review against the mining minister’s decision to allow mining in a protected area.

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