WATCH | Limpopo villagers try to thwart mining operations

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Illegal chrome mining has turned Mooihoek village near Burgersfort in Limpopo into a very dangerous place for the residents as unscrupulous mine workers dig for the mineral near their homes.
Illegal chrome mining has turned Mooihoek village near Burgersfort in Limpopo into a very dangerous place for the residents as unscrupulous mine workers dig for the mineral near their homes.
Sizwe Yende


Community members in a Limpopo village had to be dispersed by mine security guards firing rubber bullets at them as they tried to stop machines that were beginning to drill for chrome on Wednesday.

The disgruntled residents of Ga-Phasha (Selatole) outside Burgersfort claimed that the company, MJM Minerals, did not consult them about mining near a primary school and their homes.

They tried to stand in the way of the drilling machine, but mine management called for backup. They gave up when the security personnel started shooting rubber bullets at them.

The abundance of chrome in the Sekhukhune region of Limpopo, on the Eastern Belt of the Bushveld Igneous complex, has been both a blessing and a curse for the communities.

They get jobs, but if they are not complaining about illegal and legal mining activities right on their doorstep, they complain about having to relocate without being consulted.

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MJM is a subcontractor of Sefateng Chrome Mine, a chrome ore mine already operating on communal land belonging to three local communities - namely Ga-Phasha, Ga-Mampa and Jibeng – since 2015.

The major shareholder of Sefateng Mine is Corridor Mining Resources, of which the Limpopo Economic Development Agency owns 100%. Corridor Mining owns a 55% stake in Sefateng Chrome Mine, Bolepu Holdings owns a 40% stake and the communities of Ga-Phasha, Jipeng and Ga-Mampa own 5%. 

The mining right is held by Sefateng in its capacity as a private company.

A community member who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the mine only reached an agreement with their chieftainess. He said: 

We told them to mine on the mountain and stay away from our homes. We reported this matter to the department of mineral resources and the police, but they told us to get a court order. We fear for our lives. When you report them to the police (at Mecklenburg Police Station), you get a call asking you what you were doing there as soon as you leave the station.

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However, MJM Minerals director Caswell Malatjie said that the traditional authority and the whole community were consulted.

Malatjie said that the drilling exercise intended to find out how deep the chrome was and determine whether they would resort to open cast or underground mining.

He added that the company intended to report back to the community after drilling and discuss a way forward.

The problem there are illegal mine workers and their clients who feel threatened by us. Some protestors are part of those people benefiting from illegal activities.

Illegal chrome mining has left homes in villages such as Mooihoek under threat.

When City Press visited the village in 2018, illegal mine workers had excavated near residents’ homes and they were hanging, literally, by a thread.

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