Get out, mining committee tells public, media

2012-03-15 11:23

Members of the public and City Press were thrown out of a meeting of an environmental mining committee which hears objections against proposed mining activities.

The Regional Mining Development and Environmental Committee (RMDEC) sat in Polokwane today to hear objections from farmers and communities against proposed mining activities on or near their land.

This included objections against the state mining company African Exploration, Finance and Mining Corporation (AEFMC) and Coal of Africa over water issues.

But regional resources manager in the department of mineral resources Aaron Kharivhe ordered everyone, except the objectors and mining houses, to leave the meeting, despite the objectors insisting that everyone who wanted to attend the meeting should be allowed to stay.

There were four objections against Coal of Africa, mainly related to their Makhado mine near Louis Trichardt.

Kharivhe insisted that the objections be heard separately – with only the parties in that particular case present.

Environmental lawyer Christo Reeders, who represents one of the Coal of Africa objectors, accused the committee of running a clandestine meeting.

“There is a distinct impression that this meeting is biased,” Reeders said.

After challenging the committee on the constitutionality of the exclusion of other parties, Reeders insisted that the Coal of Africa objectors be heard together.

Kharivhe told the objectors to abide by the rules of the RMDEC.

He told City Press that if interested in the minutes of the meeting, the newspaper should use the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

A member of the RMDEC told the meeting: “These are our rules ... Get out.”

The meeting later decided that the Coal of Africa objectors could join their objections, but that they had to reapply.

Objectors against state mining company AEFMC’s application requested that City Press be present when they presented their case.

Kharivhe refused.

Water analysts have described the conflict between communities and mines over water in Limpopo as a time bomb and the committee will hear crucial evidence on the environmental suitability of some of the sites that the companies want to mine.

Today’s hearings was an important part of the process that will eventually decide whether the mines are given the go-ahead.

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