Petmin ready to resume operations at Tendele-run eMalahleni mine

The Tendele mine operated from 2006 to 2022 before being put under care and maintenance. SUPPLIED.

The Tendele mine operated from 2006 to 2022 before being put under care and maintenance. SUPPLIED.

Published Jun 26, 2024


Petmin is set to resume operations at the Tendele-run anthracite mine in eMalahleni under the Mpukunyoni Traditional Council near Mtubatuba, KwaZulu-Natal, targeting to produce run-of-mine ore amounting to 100 000 tons per month before ramping up to 200 000 tons when operations at the Ophondweni project commence later.

Resumption of operations in eMalahleni has been facing resistance from some community members who argue that they were not properly consulted and resettled.

However, last week, Inkosi Mkhwanazi conducted traditional and cultural rituals in eMalahleni, with Petmin saying this officially paved the way for Tendele to commence full-scale mining operations.

“Tendele will provide much-needed anthracite for the South African ferrochrome industry and generate foreign revenue through global exports. Tendele will commence with full-scale mining operations at eMalahleni, producing 100 000 tons of run-of-mine per month, before commencing operations in Ophondweni thereafter, with production ramping up to 200 000 tons per month once both areas are in full operation,” the company said.

Petmin added that the eMalahleni and Ophondweni operations will secure production over “the next four to five years, with plans under way to develop a third area, Mahujini, which will provide a further six years life of mine for Tendele, while maintaining the 200 000 tons per month production” level.

The looming resumption of operations at the mine follows several years of legal challenges and finalisation of relocation agreements and near liquidation of the company.

The Tendele mine operated from 2006 to 2022 before being put under care and maintenance.

“Since the mine’s closure in 2022, the community has suffered immensely due to the six court cases preventing its operation. We look forward to working with Tendele to ensure it operates at full capacity and benefits our people,” said Mxolisi Mthethwa, the mayor of the Mtubatuba Municipality.

“While we understand it is impossible to assist everyone in our community, every additional job and every extra rand spent on social and labour projects will greatly benefit our community.”

Last month, Tendele announced the beginning of pre-mining activities in new areas permitted by the Mining Right and Environmental Authorisation issued by the Department of Minerals and Energy back in 2016.

There are, however, ongoing challenges from All Rise Attorneys representing the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO), who are against the resumption of operations at the mine.

Tendele argues though that its right to mine was confirmed by Judge Bam in May 2022 and Judge Koen on July 13, 2023.

“Tendele coal mine has brought destruction and confusion to Somkhele by bulldozing its way into eMalahleni and mine there, no matter what,” MCEJO said in a recent statement.

In 2015, Petmin signed a R350 million broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) deal with local communities and employees at Somkhele, saying this was in line with attributes under the Mining Charter.

The deal gave 20% control of the Somkhele mine into the hands of community groups and employees.

“An important component of this empowerment is in expanded ownership of mining assets,” the company said at the time.

“From inception, it has been Petmin’s strategic intention to embrace the spirit of B-BBEE for the mining industry, it is imperative that local communities and employees become owners so they can participate and share in the economic benefit of our operations.”