The civil rights organization AfriForum is concerned about the “extremely flawed” environmental impact study that was carried out in support of environmental authorization for a coal mine that will border the Rietvlei nature reserve in Pretoria.
Clay is already being mined on site.
The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy urged the mine earlier this year to submit a retroactive application for environmental authorisation. The order follows after it came to light that coal reserves exposed during the clay mine’s normal operations are being mined without the necessary authorization.
The application is subject to a basic impact assessment process and the Draft Basic Impact Assessment Report is currently available for public comment.
Marais de Vaal, AfriForum’s advisor for environmental affairs, says the organization is concerned about the flawed report compiled by the environmental impact assessment practitioner.
According to De Vaal, the report is riddled with contradictions and it seems as if parts of the text were copied from other reports without any adjustment.
“If this is really the case, it is plagiarism and fraud,” says De Vaal. “The environmental impact assessment practitioner has a legal and professional obligation to present factually correct information.”
AfriForum says examples of inconsistencies and possible copying of information include:
- In the report, mention is made of “environmental authorisation” and a “water use licence”, while elsewhere reference is made to a “waste management licence”.
- In one place the report indicates “five years’ worth of coal reserves” while elsewhere it states that there will be mining for “30 years”.
- In the report, it is clearly stated in one place that the mine is “already operational” and “no construction will take place”, while the “environmental impact during the construction phase” is discussed pertinently in another section.
- Reference is made to provincial legislation of the Northern Cape.
- Reference is made to operations that take place downstream of the Marico Bosveld Dam and the Molated Dam in the Marico River.
- Essential factors that must be taken into account, such as the cumulative effects of mining in the environment, are discussed only in overview.
De Vaal says this is a worrying trend that is being noticed more and more in applications for environmental authorisation.
“The danger is that the competent authority’s decision to grant authorization or not will be based on unfounded facts if people do not notice such defects in time and object to them.”
AfriForum has already registered as an interested and affected party to stay informed about the application and try to ensure that any decisions are based on facts.
“The rumors about a planned coal mine opposite the Rietvlei nature reserve that recently made the rounds on social media simply stir up emotions and do not contribute to assessing this issue objectively and rationally.”
AfriForum encourages members of the public to get involved and also register as stakeholders to raise any objections. The report can be accessed on the Environmental Impact Assessment Practitioner’s website.
A public participation meeting will take place on Friday 8 September at 11:00 at the Pretoria Yacht Club at the Rietvleidam.
The closing date for members of the public to comment is 26 September.