Small victory for Kagiso as minister orders halt to mining

KAGISO residents are thrilled that Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu has ordered the immediate temporary suspension of operations at Mintails mine in Krugersdorp, west of Joburg.

Shabangu made her announcement on Friday after a preliminary investigation by her office revealed a litany of reckless actions in contravention of Mintails' mining rights.

Residents of Kagiso 1, known as Lewisham, have been involved in violent clashes with the police over the past few weeks.

They called for the closure of the mine, saying tremors from blasting have been destroying their homes and dust from the mine has been affecting their health.

Community members also complained that they were never informed or consulted about the mine before operations started just more than a year ago.

It is believed that residents were told that the area being mined was earmarked for the development of a section of the township.

Shabangu's office said West Wits Monarch, the company which was assigned the mining rights, and Mintails, the operating company, were found to have breached sections of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act and the Mine Health and Safety Act, which resulted in the company's contravention of its right to mine.

"We take this matter extremely seriously, and therefore the company cannot operate, because effectively, they have not met the conditions of their mining licence," the minister said.

Infringements include :

There were no warning signs around the pit area to prevent unauthorised access;

Mining operations are currently taking place with a major power line situated 100m from the high wall of the eastern side of the pit;

The company's failure to implement the approved social and labour plan, with emphasis on human resource development and local economic development;

The environmental impacts of opencast mining in close proximity to residential areas. More particularly, the public safety risks associated with tremors, percussion and flying rock resulting from site-specific actions and activities not provided for in the approved environmental management programme.

Community leaders say that although the temporary shutdown of the mine is welcome, they remain unsatisfied and that the protests are likely to continue until those who benefited from alleged corruption in approving the operations are criminally charged.

"We are satisfied at the minister's order for the mine to immediately cease its operations.

"We are, however, not happy that no arrests have been made," said community leader Obakeng Moilwa.