Published:  2015-08-12 Views:  2018
Published in:  BushTalk/VeldTalk
Azunite Mining Planned In A Conservation Area

VeldTalk No 76



Massive resistance to Azunite mining application


Where was a decision hatched to apply to mine sand on 4.5 ha in the middle of a conservation area?  Why does a rural community get to hear of such an application only after the deadline for comment and objections has passed?

Azunite Pty Ltd, registered in 2012 and seeking to mine sand and aggregate on Portion 6  Doornrandje in the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy, has well over 100 local residents baying for its blood over the way the application was sneaked through.  It also has its own legal problems.  It is facing deregistration by the Companies Intellectual and Properties Commission (CIPC) in Pretoria for non-payment of its registration fees!

This was discovered by a local resident when she investigated Azunite, which does not seem to have a track record in mining.

“It was only after a tip-off and many attempts to get info from the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) that we found out what they were planning under our noses,” said Mercia Komen of Doornrandje.

A description of the proposed activities raised the temperatures even further:  “During the production phase, conventional strip mining will be used. The following activities take place during the production phase:  Topsoil and subsoil removal; Operational drilling; Overburden drilling, blasting, dozing, loading and hauling.”

The proposed mine is in the heart of threatened Egoli Granite Grassland, managed by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the core of the local application for Nature Reserve status, presently being evaluated by GDARD.

Environmental consultant Mosera was appointed to manage the mining application.  The deadline for completion of consultation with Interested and Affected Parties (I&APs) was set by the Department of Mineral Resources as “on or before 29 April 2015”.  By 29 April local residents had not even heard of the application!

Efforts to organise an information meeting for all I&APs hit one obstacle after the other but the meeting finally took place on 20 June at the Laezonia Primary School in a double classroom. About 100 I&APs attended, sitting precariously on plastic chairs intended for primary school learners.

Objections, queries and comments flowed thick and fast and dissatisfaction with the state of affairs resulted in the need for a follow-up meeting.

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