The judgment of the Pretoria High Court in favour of a civil society coalition defending an Mpumalanga Strategic Water Source Area has been upheld, despite mining company Atha-Africa Ventures’ third attempt to have it set aside.
Supreme Court of Appeal president Mandisa Maya dismissed the appeal on July 9.
The coalition is represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER).
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the CER explained that, in November 2018, the High Court had set aside the 2016 decisions of former Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and the late Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, which permitted the development of a new coal mine inside the Mabola Protected Environment, near Wakkerstroom, in Mpumalanga,
In January 2019, the Pretoria High Court declined Atha-Africa’s application to appeal the High Court judgment, and awarded costs in favour of the civil society coalition.
The SCA found similarly in April 2019 – noting that there was no prospect of successfully overturning the High Court judgment, and also awarded costs in favour of the coalition, which had opposed Atha-Africa’s application.
The CER noted that, last month, Atha-Africa petitioned Maya, asking her to reconsider the SCA’s April decision. “That petition has now been refused and Atha-Africa has been ordered to pay the civil society coalition’s legal costs,” the CER stated.
The Mabola Protected Environment was declared a protected area by the Mpumalanga provincial government in 2014.
“Atha-Africa, which has stated that its Indian holding company spent $40-million on acquiring the initial prospecting right, has never produced evidence of any offtake agreements for the coal it hopes to mine,” the CER stressed, adding that the ecological sensitivity, hydrological importance and planned legal protection for the area, that includes the proposed mining area, were known by Atha-Africa before its acquisition.
The coalition that brought the court application to set aside permissions for the proposed coal mine comprises the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa, groundWork, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, BirdLife South Africa, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, the Association for Water and Rural Development and the Bench Marks Foundation.