Legal NGOs call on Department of Mineral Resources to make copies of licences automatically available to the public
28 September 2016 at 7:00 am
Two public interest law organisations have called on the Department of Mineral Resources to make copies of key mining and environmental records available automatically to the public, in other words to release these records on request by a member of the public without the need to use the request procedure provided for in the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
The DMR is among various government departments and mining companies that have been giving evidence at the South African Human Rights Commission’s National Investigative Hearing on the Socio-Economic Challenges in Mining-Affected Communities in SA.
The Centre for Environmental Rights and the Centre for Applied Legal Studies represent mining-affected communities concerned about violation of their Constitutional rights. Both organisations believe that access to the records requested are fundamental for the realisation of rights, and the promotion of transparency in the mining sector.
The two organisations have asked the DMR’s Information Officer to amend that department’s Promotion of Access to Information Act Manual to include the following records in its list of records automatically available:
- mining and prospecting rights, including mine and prospecting works programmes;
- environmental authorisations;
- social and labour plans;
- environmental management programmes and environmental management plans;
- the full applications for all the rights and licences listed above; and
- compliance inspection reports, audit reports and monitoring data in respect of compliance with conditions of these licences.
Earlier this year, both the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Water & Sanitation announced that they were making all licences issued by those departments automatically available. The Department of Water & Sanitation also included audit and compliance reports in their list of automatically available records.
Mining companies with environmental authorisations approved under the 2014 NEMA EIA Regulations must already make those licences, their environmental management programmes, assessments of financial provision for rehabilitation, closure plans, audit reports and compliance monitoring reports available on the company’s website, at the site of operation, and to anyone on request.
- The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) is a civil society organisation based at the School of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand. CALS is also a law clinic, registered with the Law Society of the Northern Provinces. As such, CALS connects the worlds of both academia and social justice. CALS’ vision is a socially, economically and politically just society where repositories of power, including the state and the private sector, uphold human rights.
- The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) is a non-profit organisation of activist lawyers who help communities and civil society organisations in South Africa realise our Constitutional right to a healthy environment by advocating and litigating for environmental justice. More about the CER at http://cer.org.za/, or visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CentreEnvironmentalRights/ and like us on Twitter @CentreEnvRights.