Residents in push to have Orion’s mining rights revoked
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AGGRIEVED residents in the Northern Cape are planning to approach the court to have the mining right granted to JSE and Australian listed Orion Minerals Prieska Copper Zinc revoked amid allegations that the company failed to consult the community on the development of the mine.
Ronald Februarie, organiser of the Siyathemba Business and Community Forum, said Orion failed to lead a thorough consultation process with the community on its plans to develop the mine and how it would uplift Siyathemba.
Februarie said the Siyathemba community had not participated in the construction of solar energy projects in the Siyathemba Local Municipality and did not want to again be sidelined in the construction of the Copperton mine.
“We have now over 5 000 signatures of people who are saying that they have not participated in any of Orion's engagements with the community. We have said we are going to take both the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) and Orion to court and we are going to the court to revoke that licence. We know that Orion has not engaged with us or at least their engagement is less than 5 percent of the community,” said Februarie.
Orion was granted a right over its portion of the Copperton mine clearing the way for the construction of the operation.
Orion chief executive Errol Smart said Prieska was granted by the DMRE in compliance with all legal requirements after extensive and appropriate consultation with all relevant stakeholders, and the suggestion that the community was not consulted about the mine is entirely untrue.
“Our stakeholder consultation is well documented and can stand up to any legal scrutiny so we have no concerns about court challenges,” said Smart.
Last month community members shut down the town of Prieska in violent protests to demand that the local council enforce certain local procurement and job requirements through its local economic development policies.
In response, Orion and the Siyathemba Municipality each approached the Northern Cape High Court in Kimberley to stop disruption to their business operations.
The company blamed the so-called “construction mafia” for the violence, saying that the protests had been disruptive for residents, who had experienced widespread intimidation from groups of heavily armed individuals.
“The mine has not even started. How can there be a construction mafia? If there was a mafia, why did the community not force themselves on the solar and wind farms construction totalling more than R12 billion? I don’t understand how you have a construction mafia when there is no mining taking place,” Februarie said.
It is anticipated that up to 1 500 jobs will be created during the construction phase of the mine over a three-year period. The mine is expected to be in operation between 12 years and 20 years, creating 900 direct jobs and up to 9 000 indirect jobs through the multiplier effect.
Smart said the company was committed to creating job and supplier opportunities for locals.
“Equally, we are committed to ensuring that as much procurement of goods and services as possible happens at a local level, but are very conscious that we cannot allow ’fronting’ to happen, where outsiders are the true beneficiaries and locals simply lend their names and addresses without reaping the long-term financial or enterprise development reward,” said Smart.