The Minister of Environmental Affairs has set the decision to grant the environmental authorisation for the proposed construction of a coal mine in Lephalale, Limpopo aside and referred it back to the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) for reconsideration. In her reasons for the decision on appeal, the Minister stated that the DMR conceded that the decision to grant the mining right to Groothoek Coal Mining was “premature”, and that the environmental authorisation issued to Groothoek was defective. This follows environmental justice group Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Concerned Citizens of Lephalale, assisted by the Centre for Environmental Rights, appeal against the decision of DMR to grant an environmental authorisation for the proposed construction of the coal mine. The proposed mine had local residents in an uproar, as it was planned to be built inside the residential boundaries of the town of Lephalale. The opencast coal mine would have been located a few hundred metres from a block of flats, and from the provincial hospital in Lephalale. Most of the Onverwacht suburb of Lephalale would have fallen inside the blast zone of the mine. Additionally, the township of Marapong, located near the proposed mining site, is primarily made up of low-cost housing known to have weak foundations. The risk that blasting at the proposed mine would cause the houses in these residential areas to collapse or suffer severe structural damage was of major concern to the groups opposing this mine.
Contact Annette Gibbs, CER, Tel 082 467-1295, firstname.lastname@example.org
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