HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - REPORT ON THE NATIONAL HEARING ON THE UNDERLYING SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHALLENGES OF MINING AFFECTED COMMUNITIES
The SAHRC launched its Report on the National Hearing on the Underlying Socio-economic Challenges of Mining-affected Communities in South Africa on the 22nd of August 2018. The FSE participated in the Hearing and many of its issues of concern are addressed in the Report. The Report may be opened here as a PDF document.
The Report for May 2019 is attached for download.
The FSE refers to the recent workshop facilitated by the DEA on the proposed Regulations pertaining to the financial provisioning on the rehabilitation and remediation of environmental damage cause by reconnaissance, prospecting, exploration, mining or production operations.
Firstly, the FSE wishes to express its gratitude to the DEA for the facilitation of the workshop, which provided an opportunity for meaningful engagement.
The FSE hereby wishes to augment its oral comments, which the FSE put forth at the said workshop, in particular with reference to Regulation 6, subsection 6 of the proposed Financial Regulations, whereby it is stated:
“The Chief Executive Officer of the applicant, holder, or person appointed in a similar position, or where liquidation or business rescue proceedings have been initiated, the liquidator or business rescue administrator of the company, is responsible for implementing the plans and report contemplated in subregulation (2)* and signing off all documentation submitted to the Minister.”
*(Subregulation (2) directs an “applicant or holder to determine the financial provision through a detailed itemisation of all activities and costs, based on actual market related rates for implementing the activities for-
The FSE’s involvement with the business rescue and liquidation processes of the Grootvlei Mine, the Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mining Company and the recent liquidation of the Mintails Group’s Mintails Gold (Pty) Ltd, Mintails SA (Pty) Ltd and Mintails Randfontein Cluster companies and Prof Tracy Humby’s research in this matter (Report attached) assisted the FSE in identifying certain challenges, e.g.
Prof. Humby’s paper highlighted the following challenges:
These challenges were confirmed by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee (PPC) on Mineral Resources during its oversight visit of Shiva Mine and the Mintails Group in September 2018. We attach the Report hereto. Please refer to pages 39 to 52 of the attached Report. (Ref. 22 November 2018: ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS NO 174─2018. No 174—2018, FIFTH SESSION, PARLIAMENT. Pages 39 – 52.)
The PPC found:
The PPC recommended:
The FSE’ presentation to the Australian High Commission and the Australian Centre of Geomechanics, which has relevance as well as some recent news media reports regarding Mintails, which also, have relevance are attached hereto.
Notes attached for download.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE AVAILABLE HERE.
Documentary Jozi Gold had its world premiere at the 21st Encounters South African International Documentary Festival this week, and some of what it revealed about mining pollution is truly shocking. Grethe Kemp reviews the film.
Directors: Sylvia Vollenhoven, Fredrik Gertten
Johannesburg is the most uranium contaminated city on Earth.
These and other shocking truths are revealed in new documentary Jozi Gold directed by South African writer, award-winning journalist, playwright and film maker Sylvia Vollenhoven and award-winning Swedish director and journalist Fredrik Gertten.
By focusing on the dogged efforts of environmental activist Mariette Liefferink, we are shown how Johannesburg’s mines have contaminated virtually everything in our city – from the water, to the air, to the ground.
While some communities live on radioactive land, others struggle with water laden with heavy metals.
But all of us – yes, every single Joburger – is affected by the mining fall-out in some way. The problem is that we don’t even fully know what it’s doing to us.
Liefferink herself is the kind of subject film makers dream of. The documentary’s opening shot sees her traipsing around an excavated field in sky-high heels, dressed to a tee in black tights, an orange blazer and plenty of jewellery.
A soft-spoken tannie with a clipped Afrikaans accent and coiffed blonde hair, she tells us later that she used to be a Jehovah’s Witness, so she’s used to be being “severely disliked”.
And dislike is a feeling she must drum up, as she chases down the CEOs of mining companies and holds the government department officials to account for exposing people to hazardous mining pollution.
Liefferink says she sees herself as a marathon runner instead of a sprinter, because her work requires a great deal of stamina.
In one scene, we watch her patiently phone a government department to lay a complaint about the discharge of untreated mine water into a river system.
It’s the 10th time she’s phoning, and she’s again sent from pillar to post.
She hangs up cordially, then blinks away tears.
But hounding the government officials – too often unsuccessfully – is not her primary work.
Liefferink believes that environmental and social justice are inextricably linked, and she works with communities to hold mining companies to account.
In one case, she laid a criminal complaint at the local police against the former owner of the Blyvoor mine, for numerous environmental infractions committed between 2008 and this year.
She didn’t think anything would come of it, but to her surprise, the state decided to prosecute the mining directors responsible.
It’s a huge victory for the Blyvoor community, which has been dealing with the effects of mining pollution for years.
A third of all the gold in human history was mined in Johannesburg, and it was what gave birth to the city.
But now we’re dealing with an environmental crisis that few of us even know the extent of.
Jozi Gold is a superbly shot documentary that we should all see. And Mariette Liefferink is someone who we should all know about, and support.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE AVAILABLE HERE.
With reference to the statement in the Jozi Gold Documentary Film that “the golden era has left 12 million people living on grounds more radioactive than Chernobyl” the FSE wishes to advise that according to its understanding the number is not 12 million people but approximately 400,000 people. Furthermore, while it is the FSE’s understanding that the majority of mine residue areas are radioactive, the FSE has no knowledge of the fact that “the grounds are more radioactive than Chernobyl”.
According to Tang & Watkins (2011) it is estimated that 25 percent of the population in Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni live in informal settlements, and approximately one quarter of them, 400,000 people, are in the mining belt. The settlements range from 100 to 40,000 people, with the largest communities in Ekurhuleni.
According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (2011), the majority of mine residue areas (MRAs) is radioactive because the Witwatersrand gold‐bearing ores contain almost ten times the amount of uranium than gold.
References: Tang, D & Watkins, A 2011, ‘Ecologies of Gold: The Past and Future Mining Landscapes of Johannesburg’, Places Journal,
Department of Agriculture and Rural Development 2011, Feasibility Study on Reclamation of Mine Residue Areas for Development Purposes: Phase II Strategy and Implementation Plan, Technical report no. 788/06/01/2011, Gauteng.
Jozi Gold is showing this week at the Encounters Film Festival in Cape Town. There will be a screening with a Q&A afterwards at the Labia on Sunday June 16th at 3pm.
The ART MEETS ACTIVISM Master Class is on Saturday June 15th from 2 pm to 4 pm.
The Jozi Gold Impact & Outreach Campaign will run from now until the end of the year and we will arrange screenings for groups of interested organisations and individuals.
Supporting documents attached for download.
- Jozi Gold Explanatory Note
- Film Synopsis