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Court date approaches for Coalition’s defence of Mpumalanga water source area

11 October 2018 at 3:32 pm

Members of the local community using water from springs in the Mabola Protected Environment. Image: Angus Burns
Members of the local community using water from springs in the Mabola Protected Environment. Image: Angus Burns

The High Court application launched by the coalition of 8 civil society organisations in July 2017 to review the decision of former Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane and the late Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa to permit Atha-Africa Ventures (Pty) Ltd to mine for coal in the Mabola Protected Environment will be heard by the Pretoria High Court from 16 to 18 October 2018.

As the proposed coal mine is in a protected area, declared under the Protected Areas Act, the mining company applied for special permission from both Ministers in order to mine there for commercial purposes.

The Minister of Environmental Affairs gave her permission to Atha in August 2016, and the Minister of Mineral Resources gave his permission in November 2016.

Neither Minister conducted a public participation process, nor notified interested and affected parties that they had received, or were considering, Atha’s application for permission.

The coalition challenging the Ministers’ decisions will argue, among other things, that the Ministers:

  • failed to take their decisions in an open and transparent manner;
  • ignored the Protected Areas Act’s requirement that mining will only be allowed in a protected environment in exceptional circumstances;
  • failed to take into account the interests of local communities;
  • failed to apply the precautionary principle and the vulnerable ecosystems principle;
  • failed to take into account that Atha has failed to make adequate provision for rehabilitation;
  • failed to take into account South Africa’s international responsibilities relating to the environment;
  • ignored key planning and other instruments; and
  • failed to take into account that the use and exploitation of non-renewable natural resources must be responsible and equitable.

The coalition’s application is opposed by both Ministers and by the mining company.

Here are:

Hear from the many activists involved in the campaign why the coalition is taking this matter to court, and how you can help!

For more about why we must secure our Strategic Water Source Areas now, visit our interactive website and map.

The coalition challenging this proposed coal mine includes the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South AfricagroundWorkEarthlife Africa JohannesburgBirdLife South Africa, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, the Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD) and the Bench Marks Foundation, and is represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights.

Previous media release issued in relation to this court case:


For media queries, please contact Annette Gibbs on [email protected] or 082 467 1295.