First it was tanzanite mining king Mike Nunn’s controversial Elandsfontein Exploration and Mining (EEM) company that applied for mining rights to access the sedimentary phosphate on a piece of farmland adjacent to the West Coast National Park. No sooner did they get the mining licence (in a most suspicious way) or the company changed its name overnight to KROPZ and launched a major marketing campaign with double spread “green” advertisements promising to fertilize the entire African continent . . .
The next moment it stated that the phosphate is actually earmarked for international markets in Asia, Brazil or Australia . . . and long before an environmental impact study was completed or a water use licence was granted, a multi-million rand infrastructure was erected in record-time on the Elandsfontein aquifer. This came despite public outrage and several pending court applications lodged by the West Coast Environmental Protection Association (WCEPA) in an attempt to save the sensitive environment and lagoon from an “illegal” mine that threatens the entire region’s underground water network . An investigation by Carte Blanche confirmed the irregularities and inconsistencies in the granting of the mining rights.
During the Easter holiday (April 2017) the Water Use Licence (WUL) was finally granted . . . against all odds and despite the worst drought in more than a century in the West Coast. In August the entire mining project was suddenly iced for an indefinite, extended period due to “technical, market, and regulatory problems” although the dewatering of the mine continued. Meanwhile persistent rumours prevail that the temporary delay is just the calm before the storm and that KROPZ is secretly attempting to extend its mining activities to sections within the West Coast National Park.
This fuelled the WCEPA into renewed action, and this week the environmental association filed an urgent interdict application to stop Kropz from unlawfully dewatering the Elandsfontein aquifer for a dormant mine.
The media release and attached court papers read as follows:
The West Coast Environmental Protection Association (WCEPA), represented by environmental law firm,Cullinans and Associates, this week launched an urgent interdict application in the Cape Town High Court against Kropz Elandsfontein (Pty) Ltd (Kropz) to stop the mining company from continuing to unlawfully dewater and recharge the Elandsfontein aquifer – a critical water source situated on the water stressed West Coast – while the mine’s water use licence (WUL) is suspended.
Photo: Mike Nunn, CEO of KROPZ
Kropz’s controversial Elandsfontein phosphate mine is located in the aquifer and borders the West Coast National Park, which includes the Langebaan Lagoon Marine Protected Area. Impacts on the 5 to 10 million year old aquifer have not been properly assessed by the mine, and may affect the Langebaan Lagoon, a Ramsar site and wetland of international importance; a significant tourist attraction; and a water body on which many scale fishers depend. The mining site cuts through a biodiverse and climate change resilient corridor which was earmarked for inclusion in the West Coast National Park, and the Lagoon is also one of the most sensitive biodiversity regions along the coast of Africa. The fact that the Lagoon is surrounded by the 32,000 hectare National Park makes it unique.
WCEPA’s urgent interdict application follows soon after it emerged that Kropz has twice alluded to SANParks executive committee members that it may request to have sections of the West Coast National Park deproclaimed in order to extend its operations into the Park; and that it had also approached the Department of Mineral Resources in this regard.
♫ Where have all the flowers gone . . . ? ♫
Kropz managed to obtain a mining right in January 2015 and was granted a WUL in April 2017. The WUL is currently under appeal to the Water Tribunal by the WCEPA, meaning that it is suspended by operation of law under the National Water Act. This renders Kropz’s continued dewatering and artificial recharging of the aquifer unlawful, and a criminal offence under the National Water Act and National Environmental Management Act.
Walter Anderson, Senior Associate at Cullinans & Associates, says: “The National Water Act provides that a water use licence is automatically suspended as soon as an appeal to the Water Tribunal is lodged. Kropz continues to dewater the aquifer despite having knowledge of the appeal suspending its WUL, and despite not having challenged the validity of the appeal in the tribunal or court. Kropz’s wilful and unlawful flouting of the principle of legality leaves WCEPA with no option but to approach the courts for urgent relief, in the public interest.”
Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Capital owns a 25% share in the Elandsfontein mine, which is an initiative of the former Zimbabwean mining entrepreneur, Mike Nunn.
Read the court papers here (copy and paste into url):
For comment on this story, contact:
Walter Anderson, Senior Associate at Cullinans & Associates
Email: Walter Andersonwalter@greencounsel.co.za
Office: 021 673 3889
Mobile: 082 309 1873
For any other media enquiries, contact:
Annette Gibbs for media relations
Mobile: 082 467 1295
More background on Michael Nunn according to Who’s Who:
Leading South African Mining Entrepreneur
Mike Nunn is a South African mining entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. His formative youth was spent in orphanages in England. He immigrated to South Africa at the age of 19. He has no formal education or qualification. Nunn has 25 years hands-on mining industry experience and has founded and developed various businesses and charitable initiatives, primarily in the mining and resources sector in Africa.
Nunn’s mining industry career began in Zambia in the early 1990’s, where he developed an emerald business, followed by tourmalines in Namibia in the mid 1990’s and then moved to Tanzania and tanzanite. From 1998 to 2005 Nunn built up effective control of the world market for both rough and polished tanzanite through his company, TanzaniteOne. Although he is on record denying he ever achieved actual control, at one point it was estimated that as much as 70% of the worlds tanzanite was either produced from his mines or traded and marketed through his company, Nunn has become widely recognized as being the pioneer of the global tanzanite market. He founded and subsequently listed TanzaniteOne on to the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange. During Nunn’s stewardship TanzaniteOne became one of the largest taxpayers in the Tanzanian mining sector and the highest dividend payer in the mining and resources sector of the London AIM.
Nunn also established the Tanzanite Foundation, a non-profit organization intended to be the industry’s so called ‘guardian’. The Tanzanite Foundation assured both the trade and consumers of tanzanite’s ethical route to market through the proper payment of royalties and taxes at origin, and by channelling funds from the sales of tanzanite back into the communities at its source. Community initiatives of the Tanzanite Foundation included the electrification of rural villages in the tanzanite mining region, construction of a primary and secondary school for 600 pupils, equipping community infrastructure, medical facilities, and construction of a place of worship and maintaining critical village access roads, positively impacting the lives of many Tanzanians.
In 2005 Nunn left TanzaniteOne and the tanzanite industry to concentrate on the development of Amari, a company with various mining interests which included diamonds, gold, nickel, platinum, coal, manganese and mining engineering services. Amari had operations in various sub-Saharan African countries, in particular Angola, Central African Republic, DRC, South Africa and Zimbabwe. By 2013 Amari had developed and either sold or listed most of its assets.
In 2012 Nunn emigrated from South Africa and now resides in London, from where he established Kropz International SARL, an explorer, mine developer and miner of fertilizer feed minerals, primarily phosphates, in west and sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2014, Nunn and his wife established Jeluka4Good, a family philanthropic initiative. Jeluka4Good supports various charitable initiatives, mainly within the sub-Saharan African region, with an emphasis towards assisting deprived children.
In 2016 Nunn co-founded Greenheart Foundation together with Umbunto-Botho and The Motsepe Foundation. Greenheart Foundation is a non-profit entity through which community, socio-economic, charitable and environmental initiatives, particularly substance abuse rehabilitation, is being undertaken.
Nunn is married and has 3 children.
Jeluka Capital Ltd
Kropz International SARL
Kropz Fertilizers (Pty) Ltd
Century City, Cape Town, South Africa, 7441
Century City, Cape Town, South Africa, 7441
Founder and CEO | Amari Group of Companies
2005 – 2011
Founder and Chairman | Tanzanite Foundation
2001 – 2006
Founder and Chairman | Tanzanite Marketing Council
2001 – 2006
Founder and CEO | TanzaniteOne Limited
2001 – 2006
Diamond Merchants Association of Southern Africa
Founding Member, 1997 – 2006
Diamond Club of South Africa
Member, 1997 – 2006
Phosphate mining: More work for Saldanha port
Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Capital (ARC) and a private company, Kropz, headed by former tanzanite miner Mike Nunn, are waiting for two final permits before they start mining phosphate near Saldanha Bay.
The Elandsfontein Phosphate Project, which will cost about R1.35bn in its first phase, has sparked environmental concerns as it will be a surface mine adjacent to the West Coast National Park and within the water catchment area of the Langebaan lagoon.
At the recent Jo’burg Indaba, former finance minister Trevor Manuel cited Elandsfontein as an example of inconsistency in the department of mineral resources’ granting of mining licences and urged the department to “clean up its act”. The West Coast Environmental Protection Association has resorted to the courts to challenge the granting of a mining licence.
Elandsfontein’s technical director, Michelle Lawrence, says it took five years from filing a prospecting rights application to securing a mining right. ARC took a 30% stake in the project only late last year.
Lawrence says the mine property is in an environmentally sensitive area, but it is not in a buffer zone and mining is not prohibited there.
The developers have taken a number of measures to limit harmful environmental effects. These include continuous rehabilitation of the pit, using municipal, not groundwater, diverting fresh water away from the mining area so it is not contaminated before it reaches the lagoon, and increasing the size of the trucks used to transport the material to the port to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
SA imports most of its fertilisers. The only domestic large-scale phosphate producer is Foskor, owned by the Industrial Development Corp. Foskor mines about 2Mt/year of phosphate rock from underground in Phalaborwa and turns it into phosphoric acid and fertilisers at an acid plant in Richards Bay.
Elandsfontein will produce 1.2Mt-1.5Mt/year of rock concentrate from a shallow resource and send it to Durban or markets such as Brazil or Australia from Saldanha’s port. Lawrence says once the quantity of resources is proven, it could justify building an acid plant in Saldanha.
While Foskor is one of the world’s highest-cost producers, Elandsfontein expects to be in the lower part of the cost curve.
The mine has applied, and is still waiting, for water-use and atmospheric emissions licences. It expects to receive those by the first quarter of next year, when it will be able to commission the mine.
Elandsfontein has employed about 1,000 people, largely locals, during construction and about 450 long-term jobs will be created in a very poor area. Excluding wages and salaries, Elandsfontein has spent about R107m in Saldanha, including on the manufacture of steelwork, Lawrence says.