Exxaro, firm in mining rights dispute

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An emerging mining company from Limpopo has accused mining giant Exxaro of attempting to snatch its prospecting right over a piece of land in Mpumalanga and the mineral resources department of turning a blind eye to the matter.

Shokie and D Transport and Mining Services, co-owned by mother and daughter Dinao and Dineo Phasha, claims to have prospecting rights in Vlakfontein near Witbank.

According to Dinao Phasha, the company has been sent from pillar to post trying to sort out the matter since it got the prospecting rights for coal in 2016.

“At one of the meetings, we were told that Exxaro had dealings with the wives of ANC leaders – so we were just wasting our time challenging them,” she said..

“We wrote letters to [the then] deputy minister Godfrey Oliphant and the [former] minister Mosebenzi Zwane [and later Gwede Mantashe] but our letters got ignored. Exxaro appealed our rights last year and we responded on the 23rd of May 2018, since then we never heard anything from them. We wrote them letters but [they] ignored [us] as usual,” Phasha said.

Phasha also said they had spent “a small fortune” during the application process and the company was now “heavily prejudiced”.

She accused the department of being unhelpful in efforts to resolve the matter.

“The department officials are siding with this company. We had numerous meetings with them but nothing seems to be unfolding.”

Mzila Mthenjane, Exxaro’s executive head of stakeholder affairs, said they were aware of the matter.

“We are aware of the complaint made by Shokie and D Transport and Mining Services to the department. We lodged an appeal with the department in September 2017 over its awarding of a prospecting right to Shokie D The Minerals.

“The Petroleum Resources Development Act holds that the regional manager may not accept an application for a prospecting right if another person holds a mining right for the same mineral and land,” Mthenjane said.

He said Exxaro did not have a prospecting right over the farm.

“However, Dorstfontein Coal Mines, of which Exxaro Coal Central is a shareholder, does hold a registered converted old order mining right over the farm,” he said.

According to Mthenjane, Dorstfontein consolidated the prospecting right into the mining right in December 2012, after the mining rights were obtained under the old order in 2005.

“The mineral rights were obtained in 2005 from Ingwe Collieries Ltd under the old Minerals Act,” he said.

Mthenjane said the land was owned by several people as its fell under more than one farm.

He also said Dorstfontein was in constant communication with both Shokie D and the department since Exxaro became aware of the matter in 2015.

“We have provided proof to Shokie D of Dorstfontein’s mining rights and have lodged an appeal with the department of mineral resources over the prospecting right. We have utmost trust that this matter will be resolved in Exxaro’s favour,” he said.

However, according to a letter dated August 18 2015, a copy of which City Press has seen, Shokie D was informed by Dorstfontein Coal Mines that they (Dorstfontein) already held the mining rights on the land.

The company said it was concerned that the department did not notify Shokie D of this on its application.

The letter also stated that Dorstfontein would be objecting to the application.

Ayanda Shezi, Mineral Resources and Energy spokesperson, said in response to questions that the department was aware of the appeal by Shokie and D Transport and Mining Services.

Shezi said that the Mpumalanga mining right was held by Dorstfontein Coal Mines. The prospecting right was issued in October 2006 and expired on October 4, 2011, she said.

“The holder applied for a renewal of the right, which was granted on December 6, 2012. The prospecting right was incorporated … into the mining right of Dorstfontein Coal Mines, which was granted on December 14, 2012.”

Shezi said that the dispute started when Dorstfontein Coal Mines lodged an appeal against the issuing of the prospecting right to Shokie and D Transport and Mining Services.

“The department has had numerous engagements with the complainant and also produced documents showing that the prospecting right was erroneously granted.”


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