AfriForum, a civil rights organisation, has voiced its alarm regarding what it deems a highly flawed environmental impact study in support of an application for ecological authorisation for coal mining at a clay mine adjacent to the Rietvlei Nature Reserve in Pretoria as reported by IOL.
The current mining rights only pertain to clay mining. However, after the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy discovered unauthorised coal mining during routine clay mining operations, the mine was directed to rectify the situation by retrospectively applying for environmental authorisation.
This application is undergoing a basic assessment process, and the Draft Basic Assessment Report is currently available for public comment.
AfriForum’s adviser for environmental affairs, Marais de Vaal, expressed concern about the draft report’s glaring issues, including inconsistencies, potential plagiarism, and fraud. De Vaal highlighted instances where the report contradicted itself, mentioned different types of licenses, and provided conflicting information regarding coal reserves and mining duration.
De Vaal emphasised that such issues are becoming increasingly prevalent in applications for environmental authorisation, posing a risk of the competent authority making decisions based on unfounded facts if the public fails to promptly identify and object to these defects.
AfriForum has registered as an interested and affected party to monitor the application process and ensure that public objections are founded on accurate information. The organisation encouraged the public to participate and register as interested and affected parties to voice their concerns.
Environmental groups are also expressing their apprehension about the potential negative impact of mining operations on water quality in the Rietvlei Nature Reserve. A public participation meeting is scheduled for September 8, and the deadline for public comments is September 26.
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