The fracas surrounding Mintail’s open pit mine in Kagiso, West of Johannesburg took a surprise turn yesterday with the minister of mineral resources, Susan Shabangu, temporarily suspending the operation.
A statement issued by the department of mineral resources yesterday said the minister effected temporary suspension of the Princess pit following a preliminary investigation.
The statement said the Minister handed over the instructions to representatives from the mine, at the site in question, in Kagiso. The investigation follows the Minister’s visit to Kagiso last week, where she met with members of the community, who expressed their concerns regarding Mintail’s operations, and their adverse impact on the surrounding areas.
The holder of the right, West Wits Monarch, and Mintails, the operating company, were found to have breached sections of both the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) and the Mine Health and Safety Act MHSA), and was thus in contravention of its right to mine”.
Shabangu said “We take this matter extremely seriously, and therefore the company cannot operate, because effectively, they have not met the conditions of their mining license”.
Two orders were thus issued – one for contravening sections 54 and 55 of the MHSA, and another for section 93 of the MPRDA. In light of these, the mine is required to seize operations and comply with the instructions issued.”
The statement added that “Some of these infringements include the following:
· There were 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.
· Failure to implement the approved Social and Labour Plan, with emphasis on human resource development and local economic development.
· 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.
The statement added that the Minister also met with members of the Mogale City Executive Council, including Mayor Koketso Calvin Seerane, to provide them with an update on the steps taken by the Department thus far.
The outcomes of this preliminary investigation will be submitted to the independent technical team who will also be conducting an assessment, due to be concluded in due course.”
Mintails, Australian Stock Exchange listed entity was quick to issue a statement last week, suggesting it was business as usual, following a meeting with the minister.
This is after a protest movement formed around Mintails operations in Kagiso. Residents neighbouring the Mintails opencast mine have accused the mining company of causing damage to their properties and the general environment.