“I went to the mine security and complained and asked to see the supervisor but he refused to come."
RESIDENTS in De Beers are once again being “smothered” by layers of grey dust as local mining company Kimberley Ekapa Mining JV (KEM-JV) loads tailings from mine dumps metres away from their homes.
Residents, especially those living in the Hull Street Terrace Housing Complex (Smartie Town), said yesterday that after complaints last year about the dust, which they say is blowing from the Super Stone Tailings Mineral Resource (TMR) situated across the road from the complex, the situation had improved slightly.
“A meeting was held about three months ago between the residents and KEM-JV representatives where they assured us that the dust, which is like a fine powder, was not toxic,” one resident said yesterday.
“We asked if the company would agree to pay the medical bills if residents did get sick as a result of inhaling the dust but they couldn’t give us any guarantee. As a result, the residents refused to give the company permission to go ahead with the mining of these dumps.”
According to the resident, the company then put a water sprayer on the mine dumps to control the dust. “However, this was only in place for about a month and was then removed. I am not sure why they removed it because the sprayer helped to minimise the amount of dust and the situation improved.”
He added that for the last month, trucks had once again started loading and hauling the dumps.
“We have to keep our doors and windows closed all the time. We cannot live like this. My children are always sick with sinusitis and tonsillitis – when they weren’t working the dumps the children were fine, but once they started again the children have become ill. People who suffer from asthma are also badly affected and one resident was rushed to hospital last week with lung issues.
“We are being smothered in this dust. It is costing us a fortune in doctors’ bills and medicines.”
According to the residents, the situation was particularly bad on Sunday night. “I went to the mine security and complained and asked to see the supervisor but he refused to come.
“The trucks stopped for a while but then they started running again after about 12.30am.
“No one could sleep because they make a terrible racket – it’s the noise of the trucks’ engines, the hooting and the beeping when they reverse … it’s just impossible to sleep.”
Spokesperson for KEM-JV, Gert Klopper, said yesterday that the company was aware of the complaints made on Sunday night, pointing out that they were “in our complaints book, which is checked and signed off on a regular basis”.
“We have since made contact with the complainants, as well as with the Department of Environment and Nature Conservation (DENC), regarding this issue, and are taking steps to address the situation.
“These include ceasing mining activities at night, as well as any steps derived from the investigation into the issue. Details of these will be communicated to both the DENC and the complainants.”
Klopper added that anyone wishing to lay a complaint or comment on the activities of the mine was invited to do so in the complaints books available at all entrances, adding that the telephone numbers of responsible officials appear on the cover of the book, or via e-mail [email protected] or communityfeedba[email protected]