Group asks Mantashe to reconsider which mines really are essential

15th April 2020

By: Donna Slater

Creamer Media Chief Photographer and Senior Contributing Editor


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A group of civil society organisations has, in a letter, called on Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe to impose stricter policy on mining operations that are allowed to return to work during the national lockdown.

It argues that a number of exceptions have been granted for certain mining operations, which it does not deem to be essential, to restart operations.

It says this and other exceptions risk “opening the floodgates” for all operations that export mined material to apply for essential service permits and reopen their mines, “thereby putting the lives of workers and communities at risk for profit”.

The group requests Mantashe to reconsider which mining operations are indeed essential services, and restrict permissible mining activity to only those deemed as essential and assumingly prohibit any mining operation that intends to mine product only for export.

In addition, the group is concerned about the “lack of clear measures” to protect mining-affected communities, especially in relation to coal and platinum group metals, where the group claims significant movement of people and contact will continue.

It also stresses that access to water is a particular challenge in many mining-affected communities, and calls on the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to work with other government departments to ensure all households in mining-affected communities with no piped potable water are immediately considered for permanent water supply beyond the Covid-19 crisis.

The group also wants mining companies to urgently avail water supply, which is not being currently used at operations as a result of being on care and maintenance, to these communities.

The letter sent to Mantashe was signed by numerous organisations, including the Mining Affected Communities United in Action, Women Affected by Mining United in Action, Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa, Waterberg Environmental Justice Forum, ActionAid South Africa, Bench Marks Foundation, Land & Accountability Research Centre, Amnesty International South Africa, Centre for Applied Legal Studies, Centre for Environmental Rights and Lawyers for Human Rights.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online


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