Home News Artisinal mining forum cries foul over Sol’s mine dumps plan

Artisinal mining forum cries foul over Sol’s mine dumps plan

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The South African Artisanal Mining Forum (SAAMF) claim it was never consulted regarding proposed project by the Plaatje Municipality to convert the city’s 80-year-old mining dumps into residential areas.

One of the areas the Sol Plaatje Municipality wants to use to “Change The Face of the City”. Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE SOUTH African Artisanal Mining Forum (SAAMF) has cried foul over a proposed project by the Plaatje Municipality to convert the city’s 80-year-old mining dumps into residential areas.

The municipality announced earlier this week that it was considering entering into an agreement with a private company to remove the city’s mining debris and using the soil to manufacture clay bricks for the construction of houses on the former dumping sites.

The project, dubbed “Change the Face of the City”, proposes the signing of a development agreement with the company Kimberley Rehabilitation and Development (KRD), which will see the removal of the mining debris from selected sites to manufacture clay bricks. “This will in turn be used for residential and commercial developments planned and executed by KRD with the aim of alleviating the huge housing shortage and to provide commercial employment opportunities,” Acting Municipal Manager, Boy Duhlwayo, said.

The SAAMF said on Friday, however, that there had been no consultation with the forum for artisanal miners regarding the proposed project.

“We have been fighting the municipality to allocate dumps and floors in their land for mining by artisanal miners,” SAAMF spokesperson, Patrick Maphoso, said.

He added that the proposed project was in breach of an agreement entered into between the municipality and the Kimberley artisanal miners in 2018, where the municipality agreed to avail areas in their land for mining (dumps and floors) to alleviate poverty. “We are surprised to learn that they are allocating the very same dumps and floors to the white monopoly capitals, meaning they are taking the land from one monopoly capital to the other without considering the previously disadvantaged,” Maphoso said. “This is a continuation of what De Beers did to the community of Kimberley by exploiting our resources. They are ripping and exploiting us further which is unacceptable. They are defending white monopoly capital which we are prepared to fight at all costs.”

Maphosa added that the SAAMF expected the ANC as the ruling party and all other political parties not to support this venture “as they have voted for expropriation of land that the land must be subdivided and shared amongst those who worked it”.

“As the historically disadvantaged group we demand our equal share. These parties should rather support the artisanal miners in the pursuit of justice.”

Maphoso added that the municipality was “taking the land from the white man and is giving to another white man”.

“We are very disappointed in the Northern Cape government because they know that we have been fighting for the land to mine but we see the colour of the skin and money playing a vital role. The economy of our country is in the hands of artisanal miners but we are being denied the opportunity to prove it.”

He stated further that the artisanal miners had been fighting for the debris since 2008. “We have marched to the Premier’s Office and DMR handing over memorandum of demands which were never addressed.”

The Sol Plaatje Municipality said in response that all interest parties, including the SAAMF, would still be given an opportunity to comment on the planned agreement.

“There has been no finality reached in this regard,” the municipality said on Friday. “Once all the comments and inputs have been collated, these will be put before council for a final decision to be made.”

The Sol Plaatje Municipality pointed out when it first announced the proposed project that Kimberley was full of mining dumps which have locked potential land for development.

“These dumps have been there for more than 100 years. KRD (Kimberley Rehabilitation and Development Company) will rehabilitate the land and use dump material for brick manufacturing, which in turn will be used for housing and commercial development,” municipal spokesperson, Thoko Riet, said.

She added that KDA would undertake the following development: commercial, middle income and BNF houses.

“The municipality is entering into PPP (Private Public Partnership) agreement with KRD.” She stated that the municipality would benefit from the following: land will be unlocked for housing and commercial development; more than 1 000 jobs will be created during manufacturing and housing development phase; improved access to housing; improved revenue for the municipality through collection of rates and taxes and improving the aesthetic look of the city.

“The land is not for free, the municipality will enter into a land availability agreement with KRD, this is scheduled to be finalised in November 2020. Thus the land is not being alienated for free, the municipality will be compensated through land sales (the sale of plots and commercial sites), this will be clearly outlined in the agreement. KRD will put all infrastructure required (services) to make development viable.

“To reiterate there is no free land given to KRD.”

According to Riet, the proposed development agreement will be presented and interacted with the public and in particular with the affected surrounding communities during October 2020. “If there are no fatal flaws encountered, the Municipality intends to conclude the development agreement during the month of November.”

Kimberley Rehabilitation and Development, which is based in Jan van Zyl Street in Monument Heights was incorporated in February 2017.

The directors are listed as Gideon Kotze, Fernando Garcao and Ariel Garcao.

Fernando Garcao is a former Angola diamond miner who emigrated to South Africa in 1985, becoming involved in small-scale Northern Cape diamond operations and later as a contractor in the Soul City low-cost housing project outside Kimberley.

According to the application for environmental authorisation, which appeared in the DFA last month, the affected properties include the BMW site, the Colville site, the St Augustine site, the Vooruitzigt quarry and the Roodepan quarry.