Reacting for the first time following the community furore over the mooted mining of iron ore at Ntembeni near Melmoth in northern KwaZulu-Natal, Jindal Mining has denied allegations that it's flouting the rules to score a licence.
The Indian mining company says it has a clear plan for how it will resettle affected people, use local water and protect graveyards.
In a response sent to IOL on Friday, the company's project manager, Shaitan Chouhan, said the petition carried by Change.org and uploaded by the Entembeni Crisis Forum contained misleading information.
On Thursday the forum started the petition which claimed that Jindal said only 300 homes would be moved when in fact 3000 would have to make way for the mine.
The forum also alleged that a total number of 3,000 graves would have to be moved.
In terms of agricultural output, the forum said farming in the area would be affected as the lush area is largely known for its farms.
With already limited water from the Phobane Dam, the forum said if the mine is allowed to go ahead, the community will suffer as mining activities will guzzle most of the water.
On Wednesday the community of Ntembeni protested and blockaded the R66 and said the mine should not be allowed as it was going to bring misery.
But Chouhan shot down those claims saying they were misplaced and defamatory.
Chouhan said if Jindal is awarded the rights to mine, it will develop in consultation with impacted communities a resettlement action plan (RAP), which provides a comprehensive set of actions for addressing impacts related to physical and economic displacement.
"The RAP process will also identify impacted gravesites and a cultural management plan developed to ensure the cultural heritage and rights of impacted communities are respected. During the environmental studies completed for Environmental Authorisation an estimated 350 homesteads were identified as potentially being affected by resettlement," Chouhan told IOL.
Chouhan said one of the studies completed for the environmental impact assessment included a cultural heritage study, and this study confirmed that graves would be affected.
If the project is awarded a mining right further surveys would be required to identify the number of affected graves and they will comply with that.
"The company will develop and implement resettlement in a participatory and consultative manner with affected households who will be involved in the RAP decision-making processes.
"Jindal Africa recognises that if resettlement is not properly planned and implemented, resettlement can result in negative impacts. However, Jindal also appreciates that if done in a participatory and consultative manner, resettlement provides opportunities to improve the living conditions and socio-economic well-being of affected households," Chouhan added.
Chouhan said that given that the proposed project is an open-cast mine water demand is likely to be reduced as when the pit deepens, they will reuse the water they collect within the pit.
"A water supply analysis has been undertaken and a study completed as part of the EIA to assess the potential impacts of abstracting water from the uMhlathuze catchment. The uMhlathuze catchment is currently over allocated and, likely, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) may only consider new applications that generate additional water in the catchment, " Chouhan said.