Court decides on mining
Cape Town - The Western Cape Provincial government has welcomed the ruling by the Western Cape High Court, interdicting Maccsand from mining, despite the company having obtained mining rights from the national department of mineral resources.
"This judgment by our independent judiciary confirms the need to always operate within the framework of our Constitution and the rule of law," MEC for environmental affairs and development planning, Anton Bredell, told News24.
"This particular ruling clarifies why it is important for us as the custodians of legislation and more specifically as the administration voted into power by the people of the province, to make informed decisions which acknowledge and consider all legislative frameworks," he added.
The dispute centred on the responsibilities of national versus municipal government and instructs a national minister to consider all aspects before he can issue a mining permit, Bredell said.
"We will respect the judgment. We're taking the advice of our senior counsel regarding an appeal," mining company Maccsand's Ganief Daries told News24.
He said that as far as they were concerned, there was a lapse in the interpretation of the law and how the different spheres of government should exercise their responsibilities.
"I won't be surprised if they (Maccsand) are going to appeal. That's going to be another huge fight," said Bredell.
Head of the department, Rudi Ellis, said that companies who have received a permit will have to apply to mine, but didn't know exactly how many mines were operating, or intended to operate in the province.
"We will have to look at where these activities are taking place and they will now have to apply," said Ellis.
Daries was less positive about mining in the province.
"It (the judgment) sets a huge precedent. There are over 200 mines in the Western Cape and I don't know what's going to happen with the industry. Things are very unclear to us now," he said.
The province has the capacity to monitor illegal activity, said Dr Eshaam Palmer, head of the green scorpions.
"We have the capacity to monitor illegal mining activities," said Palmer. "The compliance from companies is generally good. Of the 200 complaints we receive per year, about 50% of transgressors comply; 40 require a warning letter and about three land up in court," he added.
Palmer said that in most cases, non-compliance with environmental impact was due to companies being unaware of what the standards were.
The cost of the judgment will have a significant impact of Maccsand's bottom line, though.
"It's humongous, it's huge. But we will respect the judgment," said Daries.
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