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Illegal miners stand their ground

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Mining company has yet to produce any documents to back up claims to exclusive mining rights

While the Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture (KEM JV) remain adamant that they have the sole legal right to process the tailing mineral resources (TMRs), spokesperson for the artisanal miners, Lucky Seekoei, explained that the situation again came to a head after mine security attempted to remove them from the site, adjacent to Kenilworth and the Boshof Road, yesterday morning. Picture: Danie van der Lith

CALLS for government intervention to resolve tensions between illegal miners and mining companies were echoed yesterday following another stand-off between Ekapa security guards and illegal miners.

While Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture (KEM-JV) remains adamant that it has the sole legal right to process the tailing mineral resources (TMRs), the spokesperson for the illegal miners, Lucky Seekoei, explained that the situation came to a head once again yesterday morning after mine security apparently attempted to remove the illegal miners from the site adjacent to Kenilworth and Boshof Road.

“We agreed to work the floors while Ekapa processes the dumps themselves,” Seekoei said. “This morning (yesterday), security attempted to remove us from the site of the dumps, while they also want to take the floors from us. This left us with no choice but to retaliate and stand our ground.

“If KEM-JV want to take the floors, we will take the dumps, but if they leave us to mine the floors, we will leave the dumps for them, as we had agreed.”

Seekoei stated that while the mining company was positive that it was legally entitled to the exclusive mining rights, to date it has yet to produce any documentation to back up its claims.

“They say they have a right to the land and the TMRs, but we have asked them to produce the paperwork to support their claims.

“During our meeting at the premier’s office last week, we disclosed that they need to present us with the necessary documentation but we have seen nothing so far.

“They have not been able to prove anything.”

Seekoei further stated that even if the mining company was able to present evidence indicating that it had purchased the rights from De Beers, this process had never been presented to the public for approval, as per the Mineral and Petroleum Resource Development Act (MPRDA).

“The public needs to be notified and given an opportunity to object,” he said. “This has never happened so we are calling on the minister to publish this decision in the press as the public have a right to object.

“We are eagerly awaiting the relevant department to do what is right and not allow this situation to continue.”

Meanwhile, spokesperson for KEM-JV, Gert Klopper, yesterday, reiterated that the TMRs at Kenilworth and along the Boshof Road and other sites in and around Kimberley, formed a crucial part of KEM-JV’s operations after the mineral resources were acquired from De Beers.

According to Klopper, the hauling of ore for processing from the Kenilworth and Boshof TMRs continued yesterday morning and that equipment belonging to the illegal miners had been set aside for safekeeping.

“In the case of Kenilworth, Ekapa Minerals’ trucks, forming part of the load and haul operations that have been ongoing since last week, were prevented by the illegal miners from leaving the area on the property.”

Klopper explained that this retrieval process did not include the eviction of illegal miners, which was the mandate of the police and the sheriff of the court.

“In this regard, the KEM-JV has obtained a court order directing the sheriff to evict the illegal miners, who have petitioned the courts to appeal against that order but the petition was denied on the basis that there are no reasonable prospects for success.

“In the meantime, the KEM-JV is retrieving important tailing resources that were acquired from De Beers.

“This has been discussed with all relevant authorities in detail beforehand, and the illegal miners have been informed accordingly.”