Mine on Kruger National Park’s doorstep: New name, same company

After months of delay, AfriForum was registered as an interested and affected party in Tenbosch Mining (Pty) Ltd.’s application to obtain mining rights for mining activities south of the Kruger National Park. The civil rights organisation learned in May this year that Tenbosch Mining (Pty) Ltd. is continuing with their mining rights application despite the previous environmental assessment practitioner’s announcement in October 2022 that Tenbosch Mining (Pty) Ltd. withdrew their application for a mining license and environmental approval.

In September, AfriForum’s legal team sent a letter of demand to Tenbosch Mining (Pty) Ltd.’s environmental assessment practitioner to register the organisation as an interested and affected party. In this letter, AfriForum also demands that the applicant must explain how the application can continue despite the misrepresentation that was made. The applicant simply indicated that the previous environmental consultant was misinformed. This whole situation is not only extremely suspicious, but also irregular. The applicant has a legal obligation to share all material information regarding the application with interested parties. AfriForum also had comprehensive comments drawn up on the proposed environmental impact assessment.

“The fact that AfriForum had to threaten the environmental assessment practitioner with legal action before we were registered as an interested party is indicative of the cunning way in which the applicant tries to manipulate the process and circumvent its obligations. We have also submitted comments regarding the existing environmental impact assessments that have been carried out,” says Lambert de Klerk, manager of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum.

These comments point out several irregularities in the proposed environmental impact study which boils down to the fact that Tenbosch Mining (Pty) Ltd. must withdraw their application. The environmental assessment practitioner mentions Marloth Park in his location description, but he failed to mention the Kruger National Park – the latter is about 2 km closer to the mining location than Marloth Park is. The organisation believes that withholding critical information such as this is inexcusable and that it can be viewed as misleading towards all stakeholders.

Furthermore, the preliminary identification of impacts is superficial and incomplete even for a preliminary report. In addition, mining activities that will extend over more than 6,000 ha will have a significant impact on tourism in this area and will lead to a decrease in the economic benefits of tourism. In the comments, the organisation also places emphasis on the flawed public participation process and the fact that the environmental impact assessment makes no mention of comments and feedback from the public or stakeholders – this in itself is misleading as numerous issues have already been pointed out and still have not been discussed. The environmental impact study also does not contain any specialist studies.

“A mining right should never be granted to such an unreliable company. Therefore, we believe that the whole process should start from scratch. In March 2022, AfriForum obtained a court order against Barbara Creecy, the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs, to set aside her decision to review an application by the same company, and we are of the opinion that this court order should also be considered in further applications for mining rights in this area,” concludes De Klerk.

AfriForum and its legal team are considering further remedies at its disposal and will announce more about this soon.

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