Ashburton: Prospecting bid talks abandoned

2010-12-03 00:00

A MEETING held to discuss a prospecting application in the Ashburton area came to an abrupt halt after it was declared unprocedural.

The meeting, held at the Ashburton community hall at 5.30 pm on Wednesday, was the first stage of the public participation process regarding an application for prospecting rights by Maponya Consolidated Resources. The group is prospecting for stone, aggregate, dimension stone, shale, bricklay, sand and aluminium on the land designated Vaalkop and Dadelfontein 885 in Ashburton.

The area, which straddles the N3, is already subject to several proposed developments. Interested and affected parties were invited to the meeting.

Maponya Consolidated Resources is headed by William Maponya, who is also chairperson of Karibo Investment Holdings and ESI-Connect Telecommunications. Both companies are based in Sandton, Gauteng.

Sibongile Nkosi of ESI-Connect Telecommunications represented Maponya at the meeting.

She explained that the meeting was not about mining but about prospecting rights. “If prospecting rights are granted another meeting will be held to register objections,” she said.

However, questions from the floor soon brought the meeting to an end. Lawyer Jeremy Ridl asked for the prospecting permit number and the date of the application. Nkosi was unable to supply these.

Nora Choveaux of the Preservation of Mkondeni Mpushini Biodiversity Trust said she had contacted Maponya by e-mail to ask for the date of the application and he told her it would be made available at the meeting.

The date has a number of implications relating to the legal time frame in which interested and affected parties have to be informed. The date would also indicate whether it had been lodged before or after the current six-month moratorium imposed by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) on receiving new prospecting right applications which began on September 1.

Another lawyer present, A.P. Smith, asked for proof that the meeting was properly constituted. When this was not forthcoming he said the meeting should be “declared invalid”.

Nkosi offered to contact Maponya by cellphone to answer some of the questions raised, but this was rejected as being unprocedural.

Ridl said the meeting as constituted was illegitimate. “If we allow this meeting to proceed it could later be interpreted as giving legitimacy to an unlawful process.” It was then agreed by all present that the meeting be abandoned.

Asked by The Witness why no one directly related to Maponya Consolidated Resources had come to the meeting, Nkosi replied: “They never come.”

Maponya was contacted by The Witness yesterday. He said the application was submitted on August 31, 2010, a day before the moratorium came into effect, and the permit number is 824 PR. He said he received a number of queries via e-mail for this information as well as a map of the affected area and he supplied them.

“We did everything we could do under the circumstances for interested and affected parties to participate in the process,” he said.

Maponya Consolidated Resources have prospecting interests in Limpopo and North West. Depending on the type of minerals required, Maponya said they select an area by studying the geological maps issued by the Council for GeoScience.

“We discovered that in this [Ashburton] area, minerals we are looking for are concentrated.”

Maponya said he was aware of development proposals in the area as well as a land claim.

Asked what the next step would be considering the meeting was abandoned, he said he will submit what they have done so far to the DMR.

“If they feel we have not done enough they will instruct us to do further consultation and we will do so.” The submission for the prospecting rights has to be made by December 6.

Maponya said the submission to the DMR will reflect what happened at the meeting. He said there had been a “misunderstanding of certain processes” on the part of those attending. “In terms of the law we have complied.”

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