Anger at Mintails boils over in Kagiso

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Independent Newspapers.

Photographs show damage to houses in Kagiso Extension One, which residents say was caused by blasting by Mintails. Resident Ashley Mnisi blames the mining firm for causing the damage to the house he built five years ago. Photos: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Clashes between the police and residents of Kagiso Extension One, in Mogale City on the West Rand, continued yesterday, with the community demanding President Jacob Zuma’s intervention because it has lost faith in Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu’s approach.

Residents reportedly burnt tyres and blockaded roads to halt the operations of Mintails, a gold producer listed on the Australian Securities Exchange that is re-mining old shafts and tailings dams in the area.

They accuse Mintails of damaging properties and the environment and of not fulfilling a local employment quota.

The call for Zuma’s intervention comes after irate residents booed Shabangu during her visit to the area on Friday.

Kagiso residents became impatient with Shabangu when she said that nothing in the law compelled the government to close down the mine.

Eddie Milne, the chief financial officer of Mintails, denied the allegations, saying the company had complied with regulations and was employing 800 people, including members of the community.

“Where properties are within 100m of any specific mining operations, Mintails conducted a specific mine health and safety inspection and reported the findings to the Department of Mineral Resources… the department provides its approval for continued mining operations,” Milne said.

“Hayi iyamosha imine (the mine is destructive),” resident Ashley Mnisi said yesterday.

“Blasting continues three to four times a day without warning. Dust [and] noise pollution from the operation are a major problem,” Mnisi said.

A resident who declined to be named said she suffered from cancer and felt that the dust from the mine operations further threatened her health.

Tapelo Malekutu, a member of the residents’ committee, said the community wanted the mine to be shut because procedures were not followed.

Mogale City “say they don’t know who authorised the operation”, Malekutu said.

According to its website, Mintails entered into an empowerment deal in which it awarded Kutana Investment, Bukhosi Ndimande, Matla Kopanong Trust and Kairos Foundation 26 percent of its local share capital in March.

Mintails committed itself to limiting the environmental impact of its operation following a meeting with Shabangu on Friday, while the Department of Mineral Resources appointed independent technical experts to assess the damage.

Mintails planned to stop blasting on overcast days because those conditions created dust and noise problems, it said on Friday. A siren would be installed and would sound before each blast, alerting residents.

In addition, the department would appoint independent technical experts to ascertain the cause of damage to houses and to what extent it was a result of mining activities.

“Mintails would like to reiterate its commitment to make good any impairment which is found to have been caused by the mining operations,” it

said.


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