A Google Maps image of the proposed Bandelierkop prospecting-right area directly west of Air Force Base Makhado.
Date: 29 June 2019 By: Andries van Zyl
Last week saw the second round of “clashes” between landowners and Red Kite Environmental Solution regarding a proposed prospecting-right application in the Bandelierkop area.
Red Kite held a meeting with landowners about the proposed prospecting-right application on 24 April at the Adam’s Apple Hotel. From the onset, however, the meeting was characterised by confusion. Landowners did not know whether they were attending an information session or an actual public-participation meeting as required by law. Numerous important documents were not made available to all the affected landowners, which included a full copy of the basic assessment report (BAR).
This meeting was eventually concluded with a commitment by Red Kite to ask for an extension of time from the Department of Minerals and Resources (DMR) for interested and affected parties to submit comments and objections, and to distribute the legally required documents. In response, the DMR granted an additional 50 days to finalise the Basic Assessment Report (BAR) and relevant supporting documentation, including the Public Participation Report. As such, a second 30-day commenting period was provided for from 15 May to 13 June.
The applicant for the proposed prospecting right is a company listed as K2018010819 (SOUTH AFRICA) (Pty) Ltd, with directors Jonathan Anthony Knowlden and Nicholas William Van der Hoven. According to Red Kite, they are to be financed by Bauba Platinum. The proposed prospecting-rights application is for the farms Onlust 339 LS, Leeuwdrift 342 LS, Waerkum 302 LS, Welbedacht 346 LS, Vergenoeg 347 LS, Arras 1222 LS and Welkomthuis 343 LS, as well as portions of the farms Grutz 308 LS and Annaskraal 341 LS. The extent of the area proposed to be prospected equates to 9 951.20 ha and the mineral to be prospected for will be chromite. The mine is to be situated directly west of AFB Makhado.
With the additional commenting period closed, Red Kite scheduled a “second additional Public Participation Meeting” at the Adam’s Apple Hotel on Tuesday, 18 June. Especially AFB Makhado was well-represented at the meeting. Their biggest concern was the availability of water. The question was asked how the water supply to the base’s approximately 1 500 residents (300 households) would be affected, should the prospecting right develop into a mining activity. At present, water in this already water-scarce area is pumped from three boreholes next to the Sand River. AFB Makhado also informed Red Kite that a fuel leak underground from 15 years ago occurred that the base was currently rehabilitating. Red Kite was advised that, should any drilling take place near AFB Makhado, the spillage remaining underground could possibly leak into the groundwater and contaminate same.
AFB Makhado also highlighted several other problems regarding the proposed prospecting-right application. This included their refusal to allow Red Kit to Fly research drones in the area. They also argued that a mine directly west of the base would be directly in line with the airfield runway. Having said all of this, AFB Makhado explained that the Air Force was not against prospecting, but that they would object should it turn into a mining project.
The issue of water shortages in the area was also raised by several private landowners. In response, Red Kite stated that the current application was for a prospecting right only. They said that any possible future mining permits or mining rights would be subject to specialist studies and a public-participation process of their own, and that such a process would include further consultation.
Security on farms was also high on the agenda, especially seen against the backdrop of the recent spate of farm attacks and murders. Red Kite confirmed that security was of great importance to them and that this would be discussed between landowners and the applicant. A community liaison officer will also be appointed to assist with this.
Some other matters raised by concerned landowners was that of legal procedures. Many stated that they were not against development, but that the right procedures should be followed when trying to enforce such development onto a region and its people. Following the 24 April meeting, Red Kite was severely criticised for not following the correct procedure when engaging with affected and interested parties. “It is my opinion that interested and affected parties have not received moral or ethical fairness in respect of public participation,” remarked landowner Kenneth Ball, following the previous meeting. He was referring to the method and effectiveness of the notifications by Red Kite, as well as inconsistencies in the information provided to interested and affected parties. “Regrettably, this has created unnecessary inconsistencies that have provoked fear in respect of procedural fairness,” said Ball.
Following last week’s meeting, the general feeling amongst landowners the Zoutpansberger spoke to was one of “wait and see”. Some said that, judging by the number of negative inputs received, Red Kit would struggle to have the prospecting right approved.
Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.