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SABOTAGE Miners blamed

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An agreement with the police was reached to allow Ekapa to repair the pipe but only under SAPS supervision. We simply don’t trust Ekapa to enter the area.

ON HOLD: A fine residue (paste) line was severely damaged, putting both human and animal lives at risk.

KIMBERLEY Ekapa Mining Joint Venture (KEM-JV) has accused the illegal miners of sabotage and exposing Kimberley residents to dangerous environmental elements.

Damaged infrastructure, alleged to have been caused deliberately by illegal miners is posing a threat to both the local economy and the environment with KEM-JV urging the public to steer clear of the area for the sake of their own health and safety.

In the midst of sporadic clashes, the KEM-JV yesterday said in a statement that their production had needed to be put on hold for three days after a pipeline transporting fine residue (paste) was severely sabotaged.

This has caused significant complications for both the venture and the general public.

“Last Thursday, a group of illegal miners sabotaged the high pressure valves of the fine residue line from the Super Stone plant by breaking the locks and opening the valves,” said spokesperson for the KEM-JV, Stephanie Ferreira. “This resulted in fine residue spillage covering an area of 1.5 hectares.

“In this attack, the illegal miners malevolently released the fine residue to contaminate the adjacent area, resulting in KEM-JV having to take emergency and environmental measures to secure the area.”

According to Ferreira, this act puts the KEM-JV in contravention with their water license and Mineral Petroleum Resource Development Act’s EMPR commitments.

“All competent authorities (Department of Minerals and Resources, Department of Environmental Affairs and Nature Conservation and the Department of Water Affairs) were notified within 24 hours of the incident,” she added

“The fine residue spillage, which is an unstable mud, results in a negative environmental impact, which will lead to the sterilisation of the top soil, contaminating the water resources and negatively affecting the biodiversity of the nearby wetlands as all the storm water trenches leads to Du Toitspan Dam and the overflow of the dam goes to Paardebergvlei and Benfontein. “

The venture further issued a warning to residents living in the area to avoid the paste at all cost and be vigilant about keeping animals and children away from the affected area.

“The community living around the area of Superstone and Stadium, with particular reference to children and animals, are urged to take caution and stay well clear of the dangerous paste.

“Unfortunately access to the area is being denied by the illegal miners, hindering the full repair and sealing of the valves.

“SAPS were contacted on Saturday and assisted at short notice in closing the valves, preventing an even bigger environmental and humanitarian disaster.”

Speaking on behalf of the residents of the Samaria Road settlement, Michael Aluwani Mungoni, said that while KEM-JV’s allegations came as no surprise to the illegal miners, they carried no knowledge of the incident nor any sabotage, for that matter.

“There are always going to be allegations made against the small scale miners by Ekapa so we are really not surprised when such claims surface,” Mungoni said yesterday morning. “These are the tactics employed by Ekapa from day one. They harass our members and when we respond, they call it sabotage.

“We know nothing about these latest allegations.”

According to Mungoni, residents of the settlement woke up on Saturday morning to find that the area was flooded as a result of a burst pipe.

“At around 1pm on Saturday, I received a call from an officer from Kimberley’s Public Order Policing (POP) saying that Ekapa wanted to fix the pipe but were denied access,” he said. “This was the case and we refused to allow them to enter the sight due to the recent harassment we have experienced from Ekapa.

“We reached an agreement with the police to allow Ekapa to repair the pipe but only under SAPS supervision. We simply don’t trust Ekapa to enter the area.

“To date, no feedback has been received as to whether Ekapa have been able to repair the pipe but they are welcome request to the access to the area if they wish to do so.”

Meanwhile, spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Environmental Affairs, Lesego Pule, said that all functions of their department, including the approval of Environmental Authorisations (EIA’s), pollution and waste matters, had been transferred to the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) in 2014. “The only function that remained with the department is that of air quality management,” he explained.

“The department will monitor the situation outside the mining area and if pollution is identified, we will instruct the mining house to implement immediate rehabilitation measures to reduce the impact of the pollution on the environment and on the surrounding communities.”

Pule added that the department condemned the actions of any person who purposefully, or due to a lack of maintenance, causes systems to fail or contributes to pollution that is detrimental to sensitive areas or the health of nearby communities.