Environmental justice activists, including the Global Environmental Trust, have failed in a bid to close down an anthracite mine next to the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi nature reserve in northern KZN. According to a TimesLIVE report, KZN High Court (Pietermaritzburg) Judge Rishi Seegobin ruled that the company, Tendele Coal Mining, was acting lawfully and that the applicants had simply failed to make any case for an interdict shutting down the mine.

While the application was supported by some community members, traditional leadership structures in the area backed the company, saying the Somkhele mine had brought economic prosperity to the region and its closure would mean unemployment for many households.

The mine is one of the largest resources of open-pit mineable anthracite in the country and activities have been ongoing for more than a century. In its papers, the company argued that the mine was unique as other anthracite producers could not produce the qualities and quantities consistently required by ferrochrome producers.

Between 2006 and 2016, it had spent R719m paying local community employee salaries, R54m on community projects and R300m on procuring services from community-based black economic empowerment companies.

It had also given the community a financial stake in the mine. The applicants alleged that the company had no environmental authorisation in terms of a plethora of relevant laws. But Seegobin knocked all of these arguments on the head.

They seem to have adopted a scattergun approach, hoping to hit one target or another,’ he said, dismissing the application with costs.

Full TimesLIVE report