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CoAL ordered to stop work at Vele project
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10th August 2010
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JOHANNESBURG ( – South Africa’s environmental management inspectorate, the Green Scorpions, has issued a compliance notice to Aim-, ASX- and JSE-listed Coal of Africa Limited (CoAL) to cease with activities that were in contravention of the country’s National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) at its Vele colliery, in Limpopo province.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) confirmed on Tuesday that the notice had been issued on August 5.

This was announced as CoAL, on Tuesday, was set to meet with the DEA to discuss “concerns” regarding the development of its Vele project.

The DEA provided CoAL with a formal notification after Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica accused the company of carrying out illegal activities at the site, and threatened to halt development at the colliery, owing to the noncompliance of environmental laws.

The company has denied undertaking any such activity.

The notice from the Green Scorpions instructed CoAL to cease with all physical construction related activities on the access roads and roads falling within, and outside the mining right area, within 24 hours of issuance of the notice.

It further stipulated that usage of these roads for any purpose had to cease in time frames ranging from 24 hours, 48 hours, to three days respectively, on receipt of the notice. The mine was also not permitted to increase the current development footprint.

In relation to the constructed storage facility for the above ground storage of a dangerous good, the notice stated that physical construction related activities associated with the storage facility and tank had to cease within 24 hours.

In addition, within 48 hours, the storage tank on the site had to be emptied and the fuel removed to a facility that is legally authorised to store such fuel.

The instructions in the notice also required the immediate cessation of any further activities within the 1:10 flood line and/ or 32 m from any perennial, non-perennial and/or drainage lines of the Limpopo river.

In relation to the constructed water pipeline network installed from the pump system to all the areas, the notice called for the immediate cessation of any further installation of the pipeline to any area, either within and/or outside the mining right area.

CoAL also had to immediately cease using the pipeline for facilitating the movement of water, until such time as an environmental authorisation had been obtained.

All construction related activities related to the sludge dam had to be stopped within 24 hours upon receipt of the compliance notice.

The dam could also not be used for the storage of any water or waste related products until such time as all authorisations had been obtained from both the DEA and the Department of Water Affairs (DWA).

Meanwhile, CoAL was also required to appoint an independent, accredited environmental consultant or legal specialist within five working days. The consultants would be expected to submit a report to the DEA within 15 working days assessing the applicability of all relevant environmental legislation to the activities proposed for the site.

The Green Scorpions would monitor the situation at the Vele colliery, saying that failure to comply with its instructions would result in further charges to the criminal investigation that was already under way. 

The DEA could then also approach the High Court for an interdict.

CoAL was entitled to object to the compliance notice, as well as request a suspension from the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs in relation to all or some of the instructions set out in the compliance notice.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb


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