AfriForum's head of environmental affairs, Lambert de Klerk, with Cindy Benson, head of the Marloth Park Taxpayers’ Association. AfriForum will be opposing plans to mine coal on the doorstep of the Kruger National Park. Photo supplied.

DURBAN - Civil rights group AfriForum said on Monday that it would be opposing plans to mine coal over an area of 18 000 ha on the doorstep of the Kruger National Park. 

The organisation said it met with the Marloth Park Taxpayers’ Association and other interested parties earlier in the day in the run-up to opposing the mining.

AfriForum's legal team had sent a letter to Singo Consulting (Pty) Ltd and Manzolwandle Investments (Pty) Ltd - who were intending to mine coal in the area - regarding the lack of processes which had been followed to date, the organisation said.  

According to Lambert de Klerk, who heads AfriForum’s environmental affairs, the letter was necessary because the involved parties neglected to make sufficient information about the intended mine public. 

"Furthermore, no proper consultation or public participation process has been followed. Interested parties had no opportunity to register as an interested group and no documents such as an environmental impact assessment have been made available," said de Klerk. 

"After the letter, the parties did register AfriForum as an interested group, but only allowed until August 15, 2019 for input to be provided. AfriForum pointed out that this time-frame is unreasonable and asked for an extension. AfriForum will appoint an expert to prepare proper input against the mine," said de Klerk. 

He said that parts of the impact assessment matched the impact assessment of another mine in the area word for word, and that AfriForum was consulting with its legal team to take the necessary legal steps in this regard.

"It is clear that those who intend to mine have to date not acted in good faith. Two meetings were held on very short notice, making it impossible for the affected communities to attend or provide any input.

"Manzolwandle Investments wants to start mining for coal over an area of 18 000 ha in close proximity to the Kruger National Park. This holds enormous disadvantageous and destructive consequences for the immediate environment, the Crocodile River and other water sources, nature reserves, wildlife, the road network in Mpumalanga and agricultural activities," said de Klerk. 

A campaign had been established to stop the mining, and the petition could be signed on AfriForum's website.  

African News Agency (ANA)