DPE probes Gupta-linked Alexkor for environmental law compliance

2018-06-04 19:53
Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Deaan Vivier)

Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Deaan Vivier)

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The Department of Public Enterprises is investigating whether state-owned mining company Alexkor, which had links with the infamous Gupta family, complies with environmental legislation. 

This has emerged in Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan's answer to a parliamentary question by DA MP Veronica van Dyk, whose constituency is in the Northern Cape, where Alexkor is operative.

The probe is in addition to forensic investigations into allegations of wrongdoing at Alexkor, which relate to its contracts, the transparency of its sales and marketing of diamonds, and the lack of information on sales, which Gordhan announced earlier. 

Van Dyk asked whether Gordhan was aware that the Environmental Management Programme Report (EMPR) of Alexkor expressly forbade the building of seawalls, in the manner that was used extensively along the Namaqualand coastline.

She also asked whether he would launch an investigation into the cofferdam mining method Alexkor used in Namaqualand, which has environmental consequences for local fishermen and diamond divers.

READ: #GuptaLeaks: A tale of two captures: Alexkor, Gupta Inc and 'WMC'

In his answer, Gordhan said the department noted that the approved EMPR was based on the utilisation of sand material, as opposed to excavated material, to construct the coffer dams. In 2013, the Department of Environment and Nature Conversation gave Alexkor permission to continue with the coffer dam operations. 

Subsequently, Alexkor was required to revise the EMPR and this was submitted to the Department of Mineral Resources' regional office in the Northern Cape on May 4, 2018.

"The department noted the concerns raised with regards to the coffer dam operation at the Alexander Bay operations," Gordhan said.

"The department has commissioned an investigation into the legality of the operations to determine whether the processes followed in assessing and evaluating the likelihood of environmental impacts on socio-economic, community and marine life were considered."

"The department intends to conclude the investigation during the 2018/19 financial year."

Concerns about the coffer dam were raised last year already, following reports by what was then called ANN7 (now called Afro Worldview) and AmaBhungane.

In December,  AmaBhungane and Scorpio reported on Alexkor's links to the Guptas.

Read more on:    alexkor  |  gupta family

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