Pressure from a rural Limpopo community has seen African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) finally pay rent for the use of the community’s platinum-rich land, but there is still a battle ahead about the valuation of the land and other issues.
The community had taken ARM to task for failing to pay R16 667 in rent a month for four years.
ARM’s debt had accumulated to just over R1 million, and the Bakoni Tau-Phuthi Communal Property Association (CPA) had been preparing to take the company to court to get its money.
City Press has seen a copy of the lease agreement, signed on May 17 2012 between the CPA and Tamboti Platinum over 2 548.5 hectares of portions 1, 2 and 3 of Buffelshoek 368 near Burgersfort.
Tamboti Platinum did not pay the lease, and later sold its mining licence to Two Rivers Platinum Mine, which is owned by ARM and Impala Platinum.
ARM owns a 51% stake in Two Rivers Platinum Mine, while Impala’s share is 49%.
The Bakoni Tau-Phuthi land is adjacent to an existing Two Rivers Mine operation in Dwarsrivier, boasting 12.4 million ounces of platinum on the eastern limb of the Bushveld Complex.
Two Rivers Platinum Mine intends expanding on to Buffelshoek.
Bakoni Tau-Phuthi CPA lawyer Ronald Lamola said the community was also short-changed when the lease agreement was drafted.
“They just gave the community the amount without evaluating the land. How did they determine the lease amount? They know the community is vulnerable and in reality they are robbing them,” Lamola said.
He said he had been drafting papers to force ARM to meet its part of the bargain, and would ensure that the CPA obtained equity shareholding in the mine and that ARM committed to a social labour plan and local economic development.
“We will also report them to the department of mineral resources for failing to abide by the requirements of the mining licence,” Lamola said.
The CPA last met with ARM on November 1 2016, according to the minutes City Press has seen, and it was agreed that ARM would calculate the unpaid amount at a 7% annual increment since the lease agreement was signed, and that a new rental amount would be recalculated after valuation of the land.
It was also agreed that ARM representative Pieter Coetzee would take the issue of the CPA’s demand for equity shareholding to the ARM board of directors.
The meeting also agreed that Two Rivers Mine would put in writing all local economic development programmes that it intended setting aside for the community.
ARM Platinum corporate affairs executive Bennie Boshielo downplayed the CPA’s frustration, saying ARM had communicated to the CPA that they would be paid their money.
“The company had agreed with the representatives from the [CPA] to pay the rent that was due before Christmas 2016, and because the employees who were supposed to make the payment were on holiday, the payment was delayed.”
The money was paid this week.
“They did pay this week. The CPA will now appoint a valuer to determine a fair lease amount,” Lamola said.
Bakoni Tau-Phuthi CPA secretary Mothupi Tau, however, had previously accused ARM of being “unreliable” and “dishonest”.
He added that when ARM and Impala Platinum bought the mining licence from Tamboti Platinum, the community was not informed.
Motsepe is ARM’s executive chairperson. ARM is a diversified mining company that mines and beneficiates iron ore, manganese ore, chrome ore, platinum group metals, copper, nickel and coal.
ARM also produces manganese and chrome alloys, and has an investment in gold through its shareholding in Harmony.Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter: Fin24’s top stories