Thungela to appeal water use licence decision for 2.4Mt/y coal project

THUNGELA Resources is to appeal a decision by a tribunal which declined a water use application for Palmietkuilen, a proposed 2.4 million ton a year project in Gauteng.

Tarryn Genis, spokesperson for Thungela, told Miningmx that as the title holder of the property it was dealing with the appeal even though the asset had been sold “a number of years ago for a nominal consideration”.

“Whilst the sale transaction has become unconditional and was formally supported by the department of minerals and energy, a final legal administrative step to register the mining rights and various applications into the name of the new owner has however not yet been completed,” said Genis.

“The water use application referenced in the media is accordingly a matter between the new owner and the department of water and sanitation,” Genis said. Thungela did not want to disclose the identify of the new owner as this time.

BusinessLive said on Monday a Water Tribunal confirmed an earlier department of water & sanitation decision not to allow Palmietkuilen to proceed on the basis that potential harm to regional agriculture outweighed the project’s economic benefits. Palmietkuilen contains an estimated 125Mt of coal, enough to sustain mining for 53 years.

“Weighing the information before us, specialist studies, objectors’ concerns, and witness testimony — the socioeconomic impacts of not granting the [licence] is negligible relative to the socioeconomic impacts of granting [it] and uprooting the thriving agricultural economy in the area,” the tribunal ruled.

The site of the mooted mine is 12km east of Springs, Gauteng. Several water sources of the Blesbokspruit run through the project area and one of these tributaries includes the Dwars-in-die-wegvlei, Verdrietlaagte stream and Aston Lake, said BusinessLive.

“The appeal is scheduled for a hearing in the High Court in 2024. As part of the legal process the matter is sub judice and therefore Thungela awaits the decision of the court,” Genis told BusinessLive.

Thungela has been on an expansion and diversification drive. It has just concluded the acquisition of Australian thermal coal miner Enshan in a deal worth R4bn.

This article was updated to show that Thungela did not intend to develop this project for its own account.