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Rhino Oil and Gas Exploration SA (Pty) Ltd v Normandien Farms (Pty) Ltd and another

31 May 2019

Supreme Court of Appeal 

Citation: Rhino Oil and Gas Exploration SA (Pty) Ltd v Normandien Farms (Pty) Ltd & another (100/2018) [2019] ZASCA 88 (31 May 2019)

Date: 31 May 2019

Judge: Plasket JA (Ponnan, Mbha, Mathopo and Van der Merwe JJA concurring)

This matter concerned the validity of the acceptance of an exploration right application by the Petroleum Association of South Africa (PASA) in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (MPRDA). The Supreme Court of Appeal overturned the judgment of the High Court (see below) that the decision of PASA to accept the application was unlawful since material procedures were not followed. It held that Normandien Farms (Pty) Ltd could not ask for the acceptance of the exploration right application to be set aside on review since it was not prejudiced thereby.

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High Court of the Republic of South Africa, Western Cape Division, Cape Town 

Case number: 24295/2016

Date: 3 May 2017

Judge: Dlodlo J

In this matter, Normandien Farms (Pty) Ltd challenged the decisions of the South African Agency for the Promotion of Petroleum and Exploration SOC Ltd (PASA) to accept the exploration right application and scoping report submitted to it by Rhino Oil and Gas (Pty) Ltd in respect of properties in the magisterial districts of Newcastle and Dannhauser in KwaZulu-Natal. The found found that PASA did not comply with the peremptory obligations of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Regulations, 2004 and the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, 2014 in the application and acceptance process. The decisions of PASA to accept an application for an exploration right and Rhino’s scoping report were therefore found to be unlawful and set aside on review.

The court also handed down an interdict prohibiting Rhino from submitting an environmental impact assessment report to PASA.

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Section 24of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

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