Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe pictured on Friday during his in-loco inspection at Mineral Sands Resources’ Tormin mine outside Vredendal in the Western Cape (Pic: DMR Twitter)

CAPE TOWN – Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, on Friday, called on the mining industry to prioritise improving relations with communities and employees in areas where they operate as stipulated in the social labour plans in their mining licences.

Mantashe said this after conducting an in-loco inspection at Tormin mine, owned by Australian company Mineral Sands Resources (MSR), outside Vredendal, on the west coast near Lutzville, in the Western Cape.

His visit to Tormin mine came after he made a commitment to visit the mine and engage local stakeholders to address concerns raised about the company's Western Cape operation.

Tormin mine is a world-class placer beach mineral sands deposit, hosting some of the richest concentrated grades of naturally occurring zircon, ilmenite, rutile, magnetite and garnet.

The department of mineral resources has fined MSR R1.25 million for unlawful activities at its Tormin heavy minerals mine for two transgressions. 

These involved clearing a 3.9 hectare area for stockpiling material, and the construction of a 2.2 hectare dam in a cleared area, without the required environmental permission and in contravention of the conditions of the company’s mining licence.

Mantashe said that sustainable development was critical and that mining should be done in such a way as to ensure that future generations are not worse off.

"Mining companies must leave a positive legacy in areas where they operate, and positively coexist with the community, environment, and other economic sectors. If a mining company does not impact positively and cannot coexist with social and economic sectors, it is not a good mining company," Mantashe said. 

"The mining industry must appreciate that the world is changing around them. They must respect workers and communities, and they must ensure that they comply with the mining and environmental laws of the country."

Mantashe visited the mine to check its level of compliance with environmental, social and labour plans, transformation as well as health and safety imperatives, as stipulated in the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Act and the Mining Charter.

MSR is the same company trying to mine titanium on the Wild Coast at Xolobeni, where the community sought legal action last year.

African News Agency (ANA)