Skip to Content

Centre for Environmental Rights – Advancing Environmental Rights in South Africa

Support Us Subscribe Search

Virtual Library

RM Business Solutions (Pty) Ltd v Thungela Operations (Pty) Ltd & Others

17 October 2022

The judgment of the High Court of South Africa, Mpumalanga Division, Middelburg Local Seat is available here.

  • Judge: Langa J
  • Judgment delivered: 17 October 2022
  • Outcome: Matter referred to trial for oral evidence.

Summary:

The applicant, RM Business Solutions (RM) applied for a mining permit in respect of a portion of the farm Kleinwater in the district of Witbank. After paying just under R1.5 million to the DMRE, a mining permit in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002 was issued on 20 July 2022. RM commenced mining from August 2022.

On 31 August 2022 the First respondent (Thungela), together with the members of the SAPS, visited Kleinwater and informed RM that it was mining illegally and lodged a criminal case. The same day, RM’s attorneys addressed a letter to Thungela and the SAPS requesting an undertaking that they shall not continue to unlawfully evict RM from Kleinwater.

However, on 1 September 2022, Thungela’s attorneys informed RM that they intend enlisting the help of the police to seize the applicant’s mining equipment and to eject the applicant from the farm. In the same letter, Thungela informed RM that the latter was mining within its mining area.

The crux of the dispute was that while RM alleged that it was mining within the area designated by its permit, Thungela alleged that RM was mining within Thungela’s mining area and outside the area it is permitted to mine. The parties disagreed as regards to the question whether RM was mining in the correct portion of the property in line with the permit. The issue in dispute was whether RM was mining within its correct mining area as provided for in the permit.

Both parties produced expert evidence as to the description and location of the farm portions and mined areas.

The court considered the facts as set out by the parties and concluded that there is a genuine dispute of fact in this matter which could not be determined on the papers. The judge held that in the circumstances he was not persuaded that the applicant had established, on the papers, that judgment should be granted in its favour.

The matter was referred to trial for oral evidence.