As the epic fight against the “illegal” Elandsfontein/KROPZ phosphate mine on the border of the West Coast National Park continuous, both the Minister and Director General of the Department of Water and Sanitation has indicated that they support the High Court application lodged by the West Coast Environmental Association.
Walter Anderson, Senior Associate at Cullinans & Associates, says: “The Minister and Director General for the Department of Water and Sanitation indicated that neither would oppose WCEPA’s High Court application, and the Minister filed an explanatory affidavit on Friday in support of WCEPA’s application. The affidavit states that the Minister is of the opinion that WCEPA’s appeal in the water tribunal is valid, and Kropz’s argument that WCEPA ought to have appealed to the Minister is wrong for a number of reasons, including that the regulations which Kropz relies on do not apply to the application, and which regulations are invalid for inconsistency with the National Water Act in any event.”
Please Read the Minister’s affidavit here:
Meanwhile, Carte Blanche aired another comprehensive story about the controversial mine on Sunday night. While we were awaiting public access to the video for those who have missed it, commentaries on social media abounded. Watch the video here and also scroll down to check our previous stories on the mine where all that is happening now, was predicted right from the start:
“It seems Sanlam is also a major owner, which, like Patrice Motsepe and Mike Nunn, is ducking and diving. The Saldanha Bay Municipality (SBM) is less than honorable. Carte Blanche said SBM had been notified that the mine’s water licence had been suspended pending an appeal. Kropz continues to take water out because, it says, it has had no such notification on the suspension of its licence and, if it did stop, the pit it has created will overflow (with a shower of shit ending up in the lagoon?). Do we really want to be aligning ourselves with the Gupta’s main friends in the mineral department (Mosebenzi Zwane, he of the trip to Switzerland fame?)
How was a R1-billion phosphate mine built in the sensitive West Coast biosphere, adjacent to the West Coast National Park, without a Water Use or an Air Emissions Licence? John Web reports this Sunday.
Kropz warns court bid to suspend licence with hurt environment
KROPZ has hit back at environmental groups opposing its proposed R1.5bn Elandsfontein phosphate mine situated near the ecologically sensitive Langebaan Lagoon in South Africa’s Western Cape province, saying their efforts will backfire if they succeed in having the firm’s water use licence (WUL) suspended.
“If over time we are not be able to continue to safely pump the water out of the Elandsfontein aquifer around our open pit and allow it to filter back into the aquifer in accordance with our dewatering system design, the pit will flood,” said Michelle Lawrence, technical director for Kropz in a statement.
“If dewatering stops for an extended period, the pit will increase in size due to erosion of its sidewalls by the water; the volume of water in the pit will increase significantly; and the water quality will deteriorate, negatively impacting groundwater,” Lawrence added.
“The NGO said in court papers that a water use licence is automatically suspended under the National Water Act once an appeal to the government’s issuing of the licence has been lodged. The suspension lasts until the appeal is decided. The WCEPA had lodged an appeal with the Water Tribunal in June,” it said.
According to Walter Anderson at Cullinans and Associates, who lodged the appeal on behalf of the West Coast Environmental Protection Association (WCEPA), Kropz continues to dewater the aquifer despite knowledge the appeal suspended its water licence, 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,” said Anderson
Kropz disputes that the licence is suspended.
Kropz had spent R6m on groundwater studies in an effort to derisk the likelihood of contamination of the Langebaan Lagoon, said Lawrence.
“Importantly, all groundwater monitoring we have done since we began the dewatering and recharge of the aquifer shows these actions are not having a negative impact on it,” said Dr Fanie Botha, one of Kropz’s groundwater specialists.
Nicola Viljoen, WCEPA Treasurer, said that while it may cost Kropz money to rectify the effects on the pit wall following the suspension of the WUL, but there was “… no reason to believe that it will cause any significant environmental harm over and above the harm already caused by Kropz”.
“Kropz’s current actions are unlawful, and if the pit floods and the walls begin to erode Kropz has only itself to blame,” said Viljoen.
The interdict is the latest setback for Kropz which on August 15 said it had put the 1.5 million tonnes/year phosphate operation on hold owing to a combination of regulatory, market and technical problems. Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Capital has shares in the Elandsfontein project which is an initiative of Mike Nunn, a mining entrepreneur who is best known for founding Tanzanite One.