JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) − Nonprofit organisation Conservation South Africa (CSA) is demanding disclosure of the full details of the De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM) and Trans Hex Namaqualand deal, announced last week.
Trans Hex is buying the mine, which is close to its Baken alluvial operations on the West Coast, from DBCM for R225-million.
The group said this week that neither it, nor the Kommaggas community, which also has a land claim on the area where the mine is located, had been consulted on the transfer of the Namaqualand mining rights from DBCM to Trans Hex.
This was despite a number of requests to be involved and informed on details, particularly Trans Hex’s ability to comply with rehabilitation obligations, the CSA said.
“For too long, the Constitutional rights of access to information and administrative justice have been ignored in the mining sector. The law on this is clear – any decisions by authorities that can materially and adversely affect people’s rights must be made in a procedurally fair manner. This means that affected people must be given information about the proposed decision, and must be given an opportunity to make representations before that decision is made," said Centre for Environmental Rights executive director Melissa Fourie.
However, DBCM spokesperson Tom Tweedy said that the company had engaged with the CSA on the sale of Namaqualand mines and had, together with its independent advisers, answered their questions.
“Ahead of our announcement last week, the company engaged extensively with stakeholders in Namaqualand. In our engagements just ahead, and after the sale to Trans Hex, we have been encouraged that the sale has been well received by communities, and by local elected representatives and by employees at the mine.”
He said that some groups associated with shareholders had expressed their disappointment that the sale was not awarded to another interested party, but added that DBCM remained convinced that it had made the right decision in selecting Trans Hex as the buyer.
On the question of land claims by the Kommaggas community, Tweedy said that no gazetted land claim from the Kommaggas community could be found on record.
DBCM said that Trans Hex had the necessary technical competence and a proven record for the restoration of the fragile Namaqualand environment.
However, this is disputed by the Hondeklip community, as well as ecological rehabilitation mines specialist Dr Peter Carrick, who claimed that Trans Hex had not made any real attempt towards environmental rehabilitation at its Namaqualand operations, even those that it had been trying to close for many years.
Concerns were also raised that the company, as a smaller player in the industry, was not in the financial provision to clean up after a century of mining by DBCM.
“De Beers has worked hard to keep the cost calculations revisions made during the period of the sale process a secret, which is particularly concerning given that the costs were calculated entirely by De Beers and have not been verified by any sufficiently independent external consultants or other third parties,” said the CSA.
For that reason, CSA wants the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) to request an independent financial audit to ensure that Trans Hex had the provisions to take on the rehabilitation process.
Tweedy said that the company’s current solutions for rehabilitation at the Namaqualand mine exceeded minimum legislated requirements as documented in the amended environmental management plan (EMP), and assured that the appropriate financial guarantees would be put in place by the DMR to ensure that rehabilitation continued under the management of Trans Hex.
CSA also called for detailed information on the proposed Trans Hex EMP, as well as other relevant information relating to the transaction.
It said legal action may be taken as a result of the “secrecy” in which the deal had been made.