Date: 06 September 2018 By: Andries van Zyl
MC Mining CEO David Brown said on Tuesday that he was pleased to announce further progress at its fully permitted Makhado Lite hard-coking and thermal-coal project.
The company said in a media statement that the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET) had granted the environmental authorisation (EA) amendment for Makhado. Stakeholders now have the opportunity to appeal this amendment. Any appeal will result in the suspension of the LEDET’s authorisation. “MC Mining will address this with the regulatory authorities if applicable,” read MC Mining’s press release.
Brown said that LEDET’s decision reinforced the government’s support for their Makhado Lite project in the Nzhelele valley and the project’s potential to contribute to socio-economic development in the area. “We await the record of decision from the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and have commenced the process to obtain surface rights access in terms of South African mining legislation,” said Brown.
The proposed Makhado Colliery project is to be established on the farms Lukin 643, Salaita 188, Windhoek 649 MS, Matumba 668 MS, Tanga 648 MS, Daru 848 MS and Fripp 645 MS. As previously reported, MC Mining applied for an amendment of their EA as a result of a change in the mode of transport of the product from rail to road.
The Makhado Lite project is at present central to the government’s proposed expropriation of two of the farms on which the mine is to be established, namely Lukin and Salaita. Questions have already been asked as to the real reasons behind the planned expropriation of the two farms from its current owner, Akkerland Boerdery. Akkerland Boerdery has since started legal proceeding against the government’s proposed expropriation plans. At the same time, it is noteworthy that MC Mining (previously known as Coal of Africa Limited) formed part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent delegation to China.
The Makhado/Musina Special Economic Zone (SEZ) was once again high on the agenda during the Chinese visit as part of a $10 billion deal struck by President Ramaphosa and Chinese President Xi last week.
The investment was made possible by the National Development and Reform Commission of the People's Republic of China (NDRC) with, among others, the Makhado-Musina SEZ to be developed at Mopane between Louis Trichardt and Musina as specific target. The deal includes the construction of a 4 600MW coal-fired power plant over six years and a cement-production plant over three years, as well as a stainless-steel plant and a ferro-chromium/manganese plant.
At face value, the likelihood seems very small that the China/South Africa deal regarding the SEZs, as well as MC Mining’s continued attempts to get their Makhado Lite Colliery up and running, and even the government’s latest attempt to expropriate the farms Lukin and Salaita to gain access to the rich underground coal reserves without having to pay a cent for them are not interconnected.
MC Mining has already distanced itself from being part of what many describe as a conspiracy to obtain access to the farms’ rich coal deposits by way of a recent comment made by the company’s group corporate affairs manager, Ms Florence Duval. Although admitting that the company required access to the key farms Lukin and Salaita to confirm geotechnical information prior to commencing with construction, Duval said that these properties were subject to a South African Government land-claim process and that MC Mining was monitoring the progress thereof and any potential effects of this process on the Makhado construction timetable. “However, MC Mining has commenced a statutory process to obtain access to the properties by virtue of its mining right,” said Duval.
Regarding the above, it would seem that some truth can be found in Roger Waters’s lyrics to the song Perfect Sense, which says: “Can’t you see, It all makes perfect sense, Expressed in dollars and cents, Pounds, shillings and pence.”
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.