Pretoria set to have its own platinum mine

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Copy of PN Mine Land3251

Independent Newspapers.

The land that has been earmarked for the development of a platinum mine close to Pretoria. On the right is a map showing the location of the proposed mine. Picture: Oupa Mokoena.

Pretoria - Pretoria could be on the brink of an economic injection in the form of a platinum mine on the outskirts of Doornpoort, about 10km north of the city.

However, some city residents and other affected parties are not in favour of the project.

The Department of Mineral Resources has awarded a five-year prospecting right on a 2 779.64ha piece of land just north of the N4 to Gemsbok Platinum (Pty) Ltd, a subsidiary of JSE-listed Sable Platinum (Pty) Ltd.

The prospecting right will allow the company to conduct mapping, sampling and geographical surveying for vanadium, titanium, iron ore and associated minerals with the purpose of assessing the viability of applying for a mining licence. The process involves drilling and possibly trenching.

James Allan, Sable Platinum chief executive, said a decision to apply for a mining right would depend on the outcome of the prospecting.

Allan said the company followed the processes required by law. Public meetings were held with affected residents and minutes of these forwarded to the department for consideration, he said. No work has yet commenced on the site.

In a letter to the Doornpoort Residents’ Association, signed by several high-ranking officials in the department, explaining the reasons for the approval, authorities agreed the applicant had complied with all requirements.

However, most notable in the letter was item 5.1, which said no objections had been received against the application.

Another reason given by the department for the approval was that prospecting rights had already been granted to two other companies on the same land – but for different minerals – in accordance with the law.

The residents’ association and lobby group AfriForum said they had submitted thousands of letters of objection from their members. They claim these were ignored by the department when it granted the prospecting permit to Gemsbok.

Doornpoort Residents’ Association chairman Martin Barnard said they had since appealed against the decision. The department has yet to respond.

More than 3 000 people in the immediate area have signed petitions against the proposed mining activities in Doornpoort. In the petition, the residents’ association said it was opposing any mining activities in the area based on socio, environmental and health reasons. It said such activities would be to the detriment of the community.

AfriForum said in its appeal that there would be risks posed to groundwater in the area should the prospecting right become a mining right, as expected.

The group also expressed concern about the inability of the government to govern, monitor and enforce legislation and hold companies accountable in the mining sector and the resulting social and environmental impacts.

There was a wetland on the property, and there had been no indication that this area would be protected, said Julius Kleynhans of AfriForum.

”Mining poses a threat to groundwater, road infrastructure and noise levels.

“We are not against mining, but we oppose developments that occur in ecologically sensitive areas, wetlands, and which will negatively affect human and environmental health.”

Ayanda Shezi, spokeswoman for the Department of Mineral Resources, said objections referred to were received after the closing date. However, she said they were registered as environmental concerns and the department was confident it dealt with them during the public participation process.

Shezi said the department intended engaging with the aggrieved parties to find solutions with Gemsbok Platinum.

Fanie du Plessis, chief executive of the Capital City Business Chamber, said generally, mining would provide a financial injection to Pretoria as additional services and goods would be required.

This, he said, would lead to additional businesses being established and additional employment opportunities being created.

However, Du Plessis warned that current infrastructure such as roads, stormwater drainage and electricity were already inadequate and would be under more pressure.

“Although there may be a boost to the real estate industry, this will be more negative than positive as the types of property needed will generally lower the value of current properties.” - Pretoria News


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