Thungela under fire as Khwezela acid spill attracts criminal investigation

July Ndlovu, CEO, Anglo American: Coal

THUNGELA Resources CEO July Ndlovu defended the firm’s disclosure practices after an overflow of acidic water at its Khwezela colliery potentially polluted a nearby water resource, said Fin24 earlier this week.

Fielding questions during Thungela’s annual general meeting, Ndlovu said the firm had been “exemplary” in informing the market of the spill at its year-end results presentation even though the event fell outside the period under review.

“We are working tirelessly with our stakeholders to develop a plan to try to remedy the effects of this incident as best as we can,” Ndlovu said. “We have retained the services of scientists to work with our stakeholders so that we can put together a comprehensive remedial action”.

According to Fin24, Thungela could face criminal prosecution. Department of Water and Sanitation spokesperson Sputnik Ratau told the publication that there was a criminal case under investigation against Thungela in relation to the spill.

Said Ndlovu: “(A)t this stage, we have not been charged. As and when all these factors come to fruition, we will disclose to the market the status at that point in time”.

The spill has been linked to possible illegal mining practices but environmental lobbyist Just Share questioned Thungela’s explanation. Fin24 quoted Just Share as saying that illegal miners “would not have access to these mines, or the opportunity to cause damage, if they had been rehabilitated ‘back to their original condition’ according to the law”.

Ndlovu said that it took time to rehabilitate mining areas, and that when illegal miners moved in, Thungela had worked with law enforcement to stop the illicit mining activity. “And there are many examples in and around our mining areas where we’ve done this responsibly and to best practice,” he added.