CoAL’s Mooiplaats woes mount

[] — FOLLOWING hard on the forced closure of parts of its Vele mining complex in Limpopo, the Australian-owned mining company Coal of Africa (CoAL) is in trouble again with the environment department in Mpumalanga.

Giving a written reply on Wednesday to a Parliamentary question from Gareth Morgan of the Democratic Alliance, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said that offences alleged against the company’s Mooiplaats colliery outside Ermelo include operating without a water use licence (WUL) and indeed without authorisations under the National Environmental Management Act for almost all activities.

Nor in the event of having to close the mine is there an appropriate closure plan (addressing liabilities, financial provision), or an appropriate environmental impact assessment for closure.

The minister told Morgan the Green Scorpions were to have decided on the way forward by the end of last month after inputs from all relevant parties that were involved in a joint site visit to Mooiplaats colliery in August, which included officials from the National Prosecuting Authority, her department and the Mpumalanga Parks and Tourism Agency.

“To date, no compliance notices or directives have been issued to the mine,” Sonjica explained.

“It should be noted that the water use license applications (WULA) which had been submitted to my department lacked important technical information and has been returned to the applicant setting out the requirements and additional information required.”

She said the Mpumalanga branch of the Green Scorpions has not yet taken action but has requested Coal of Africa to submit all environmental mining plans (EMPs), environmental impact assessments (EIAs), National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) authorisations and WULAs relating to all their mining operations in Mpumalanga by 10 September 2010 for verification and possible prosecution.

In August Coal of Africa was ordered by the environment department to halt construction of access roads at its Vele site, to empty the fuel of the storage tank on the site, to stop any further installation or use of pipelines and not to use the dam on site for the storage of any water or waste related products.