Pilanesberg Platinum Mines ends six-year legal tussle with North West community

PILANESBERG Platinum Mines (PPM), the operation in which the UK’s Gemfields has a minority stake, today announced agreement with the Lesetlheng community that will enable mining to start on the firm’s Wilgespruit farm “in a matter of months”.

The agreement, which includes a “significant” cash compensation and a plan on future procurement that will benefit the community, ends six years of litigation, the company said in a statement.

A dispute between the Lesetlheng community and the company initially turned on the rejection of a resettlement plan after PPM had been granted a mining right. The resettlement plan offered had been previously accepted by the Bakgatla Ba Kgafela Tribal Authority and approved by Government.

The matter travelled through the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal with outcomes in favour of PPM until it reached the Constitutional Court.

It ruled that mines can no longer rely solely only on their mining right to displace a person or community from their land to exercise their mining right. “The Constitutional Court essentially directed PPM and the Lesetlheng community to negotiate a settlement,” the company said.

“We have travelled a long road together and I am pleased that this agreement enables both the mine and the community to realise future benefits,” said Erich Clarke CEO of PPM in a statement.

Gemfields said in March last year that it had suffered a $47.6m fair value loss attached to its held-for sale asset, Sedibelo Platinum Mines.

Commenting this year on the investment, Gemfields CEO, Sean Gilbertson, said that interest in buying Gemfields’ stake in Sedibelo, about 6% of the total company, was low given its illiquid nature.