The life expectancy of people living in Gauteng has improved, premier Nomvula Mokonyane said. File picture: Dumisani Dube

Johannesburg - Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane has welcomed an order by the High Court in Johannesburg to temporarily suspend the operations of gold mining company Mintails, in Kagiso, on the West Rand.

The application, seeking an urgent interim interdict to restrain mining at the company's Princess Pit, was brought by the Gauteng provincial government, Mokonyane's spokesman Thebe Mohatle said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The Gauteng provincial government acted in the interests of the affected residents of Kagiso,” Mohatle said.

Kagiso residents complained that the company's mining activity was causing the windows in their houses to shatter and the walls to crack, Mohatle said.

“The damages were attributed to the new mine's close proximity to the residential area,” he said.

Mokonyane warned Kagiso residents to refrain from violent acts and to respect the court order.

The decision to suspend Mintails from conducting any blasting activities in and around Kagiso was made after a preliminary investigation, by the department, into the mining company's operations, Mineral Resources department spokeswoman Ayanda Shezi said in a statement on Friday.

“The holder of the right, West Wits Monarch, and Mintails, the operating company, were found to have breached sections of both the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act and the Mine Health and Safety Act, and was thus in contravention of its right to mine,” Shezi said.

Infringements identified in the preliminary report included a lack of warning signs around the pit to prevent unauthorised access, and the proximity of a major power line to a high wall on the pit's eastern side.

Mintails had also failed to implement its approved social and labour plan, Shezi said.

There were concerns about the environmental impact of opencast mining near residential areas, and public safety risks such as earth tremors caused by the mine's activities and rocks thrown up from the blast area.

“The outcomes of this preliminary investigation will be submitted to the independent technical team, who will also be conducting an assessment...,” Shezi said.