Ngwenya Lodge, Marloth Park, Lionspruit and a number of properties near Komatipoort on the southern border of the Kruger National Park have recently come face-to-face with Manzolwandle Investments; a company, based in Witbank, Mpumalanga, applying for a mining right spanning approximately 18 000ha near Komatipoort. Here’s everything we know about the 2019 mining application:

The mining right application spans 18 000ha.
  • Manzolwandle Investments has applied for four applications for the above-mentioned area; namely, a mining permit, a mining right and two prospecting applications. These applications were submitted on the 19th July 2018 and accepted for consideration by the Department of Mineral Resources on the 12th September 2018. Manzolwandle Investments then hired Singo Consulting (Pty) Ltd as their Environmental Assessment Practitioners to conduct their evaluations of the proposed mine’s impact on the area and surrounding environment.
  • In terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, applicants of this nature are required to notify all property owners and all interested and affected parties of the development. While Singo Consulting did, in fact, host a meeting on the 28th May 2019, only a handful of parties were invited to attend this public meeting and many affected parties, such as Ngwenya Lodge, were not informed of the gathering or the proposed open cast mine in the area. Ngwenya, the management team and managing agent, VRS, were informed of the application through other Interested and Affected Parties, such as Cindy Benson, from the Marloth Park Ratepayers Association.
  • Singo Consulting, in the meantime, has submitted their Scoping Report, which lays out their estimates on capital investments and highlights the details of the proposed mining project. This is an initial report and further information and research is required to determine the viability of such a project. Business Maverick conducted further research and discovered that this initial report makes no mention of the mine being within a protected area. Singo, on the 08th July 2019, also submitted their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Programme. According to IOL, this assessment states that 33 species will be affected by the coal mine and fails to mention the effect of the mine on the wetlands. Singo’s response is that mining will not take place within 100m of the wetlands, neglecting to state that any mining activity will still negatively impact the natural water resources in the area.
  • AfriForum has since started taking action to oppose the 2019 mining application near the Kruger National Park and Komatipoort. AfriForum’s lead on environmental affairs, Lambert de Klerk, submitted a letter to Manzolwandle Investments and Singo Consulting to outline the processes which have not been followed and to inform both parties that documentation concerning the proposed mine was not made public knowledge, as is necessary. Soon after, the EIA was published.
  • The Corridor Gazette, a local newspaper based in Mpumalanga, provided insight into a meeting held with the applicants, as well as Interested and Affected Parties on the 30th June 2019 at the Disaster Management Centre. Evidently, while certain studies were available to be viewed, the Environmental Impact Assessment had not been made public yet, even though a deadline for comment thereon was to be made before the 19th June, previously the 19th July. This raised yet another red flag regarding the 2019 mining application and due diligence not being followed for proper procedure. This gathering also brought to light that Singo and Manzolwandle have applied for water rights in the area, as well. This news further raises concern for the environment and communities in surrounding areas.
  • Shortly after the initial meeting between interested parties, Manzolwandle Investments and Singo Consulting, Corridor Gazette reported on the business chamber meeting held on the 04th of July, 2019, where over 300 interested parties gathered at Kambaku Golf Club to discuss the 2019 mining application. The Kruger Lowveld Chambers of Business and Tourism (KLCBT), as well as the Nkomanzi Local Tourism Organisation, co-hosted the meeting to outline the process of such an application and to inform meeting attendees of the impact the application would have on the area. The meeting also introduced Richard Spoor, an attorney and activist with a focus on South African human rights and environmental rights, who has agreed to assist Interested and Affected Parties.
  • Lowvelder, a second local newspaper in Mpumalanga, has also joined voices to shed light on the 2019 mining application, sharing their latest update on the 05th July 2019. Francois Rossouw, CEO of Saai, an agricultural interest group, has voiced concerns on the proposed mine from a farming point-of-view. In Lowvelders article, Rossouw is quoted to have said, “This one-off yield [of the mine], as well as damage to the water table, ecology and tourism, should be weighed up against the current agricultural activities in the area, which can yield a growing income of more than R100 000 per hectare per year after deductions for an indefinite time.” Rossouw had also approached an independent mining consultant who informed him that the water requirements of the mine would affect irrigation farmers up to 300km along the Crocodile River, while dust particles from the open cast mine will affect crops; an industry that brings R100 000 per hectare per year for the economy.
  • Cindy Benson has been at the head of the fight against the 2019 mining application and continues to work with property owners and Interested and Affected Parties in the area to oppose the application. In an interview with IOL, Cindy voiced everyone’s concern over the water usage of the mine and its impact on the communities, agriculture and environment within the Kruger National Park, “The most import threat is the impact the coal mine will have on our water. The mine aims to produce approximately 20 million tonnes of high-grade coal per year, which means that the mine will use approximately 11.62 billion litres of water per year. The Kwena dam is at 40% and the Crocodile River catchment and its tributaries are disastrously low.” Other concerns include how the disruption caused by mining activities and noise pollution will affect the density of wildlife in the area, how the opencast mine will destroy and scar the biome, what impact this application will have on tourism and the workforce in the area, as well as the extent to which it will diminish agricultural activity. Many have joined voices to Benson’s over how Manzolwandle’s estimate of 150 jobs at the mine could possibly outweigh the jobs created and sustained by a number of tourism and hospitality, farming and other properties in the area.
  • To date, the only statement made by either Manzolwandle Investments, or Singo Consulting, was to IOL by Raymond Zulu, a director of the company applying for the mining right,

“They are drunk. It’s an unwinnable case. We are following all the correct procedures. They’re going to waste their money for nothing. The only people objecting are the white people. Some are not even staying in Marloth Park. They are in Australia, England, Joburg and America. Where we are going to start mining is about 12km away from Marloth Park. The people who are supporting us are the black people. They are hungry and we have to develop their lives and their places in the right manner. The Kruger is far from the place we are going to mine. I cannot talk about someone who cares about animals and doesn’t care about human beings.”

27 JULY 2019, 12:45PM / SHEREE BEGA / IOL
  • Early in October 2019, Singo Consulting, the applicant’s environmental consultant, withdrew as Environmental consultant. A case was also opened against Singo Consulting, for plagiarism and fraud, as their Background Information Document was a copy and paste from other Background Information Documents. As the Applicant’s (Manzolwandile Investments) EIA consultants have withdrawn, they will need to appoint new consultants should they wish to continue pursuing the application. The mining right has not been granted, just to be clear, the applicants were granted an acceptance letter by the DMR (which states that they must consult with landowners and interested and affected parties, as well obtain the relevant environmental reports).

Latest Update:

  • At a meeting held on the 16th of October 2019, between representatives of Manzolwandle Investments (Pty) Ltd and representatives for the opposition, a number of pertinent points were addressed. Confirmation was received that the previous EIA was inadequate; proper scoping and a new EIA would have to be conducted and the area in question has been reduced from the initial 17 985 hectares to 10 000 hectares. (The area no longer includes Marloth Park or Ngwenya Lodge.) Later in the month, on the 30th of October 2019, the applicant requested an extension to allow enough time to do a proper EIA with the necessary reports.

“We wish to thank those members who have participated and registered as I&AP’s to date. Although the information that Ngwenya Lodge is being removed from the intended mining area is a positive sign and good news for all owners; we request that owners continue to partake in the process, especially considering that the area may well still affect and/or impact the Kruger National Park buffer zone.” – Ngwenya Lodge Board of Directors

The Kruger National Park, Ngwenya Lodge, Marloth Park and others hold a special place in the hearts of visitors, as they arrive, each year, to experience the wonders of the South African bush. The town of Komatipoort and surrounding communities are reliant on the rich tourism and agricultural draw of the area for work and sustainable living conditions. As we await further news on the 2019 mining application, we will continue to do the best we can to play our part in preserving this rich ecosystem through environmental conservation.

Click here for more information on how this 2019 mining application will affect the Kruger National Park and surrounds.
Click here if you wish to register as an Interested and Affected Party.
Follow Ngwenya Lodge on Facebook to stay up-to-date with developments on this mine.

2 comments

Sharlene Leathem

As a shareholder, I am totally against the proposed mining operations. This will have serious effects on the ecosystem. This must be opposed very strongly by everyone in the affected areas and surrounds.

Ngwenya Marketing

We agree! Thank you for voicing your concerns, Sharlene.

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