Palmietkuilen nears final approval, company liaising with community

Exploration and mining company Canyon Coal’s proposed Palmietkuilen openpit coal mine, in Springs, Gauteng, is in the final stages of regulatory approval and the company hopes to begin mining before the end of the year.

Canyon Coal is a subsidiary of mining investment company Menar.

The project, however, has been marred by spates of protests by community members.

In May, Mining Weekly Online received comments from a community member who indicated that community members were protesting against the mine’s development in fear that it would cause mass displacement of the community.

However, speaking to Mining Weekly Online, Menar group social licensing manager Xolile Mankayi indicated that some of protesters were prompted by a few people who “misled” the community into believing that their homes would be affected by the mine.

“This is despite the fact that we have held a number of public consultation meetings, more than prescribed in national legislation, to explain to the community that there would be no negative consequences with regard to housing as a result of the mine,” he said.

Some community members were also demanding jobs, Mankayi indicated.

“Given the high unemployment rate in the country, we understand the impatience. And we hope that when Palmietkuilen comes on stream, we will employ more people from the local community and offer procurement opportunities as well.

“Although not everyone will get a job, given the economic situation in the country, any number of employment opportunities should be welcome.”

Mankayi noted that the company held a meeting with the executive mayor of Lesedi local municipality and community representatives on June 5 at the offices of the municipality, to provide background on the Palmietkuilen project and engage on solutions to address the community unrest.

“We intend to establish a community forum where all relevant issues, including plans to employ and procure mainly from the local communities, will be discussed. We want to have a productive relationship with the communities during the life of the mine.

“Whatever the difficulties we encounter, we believe that it is only by working together with the community that we can create conditions for investment, growth, socioeconomic upliftment and stability. These are outcomes that underpin our investment philosophy in South Africa.”

Mankayi said that the company would continue sharing information with the community to mitigate the “misinformation that has led to protests”.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

The Palmietkuilen project involves the development of a new openpit coal mine and supporting infrastructure.

The raw coal, once extracted, will be transported to a processing plant for crushing, screening and washing, for sale into the local market.

The coal product will be either transported via haul roads from the product stockpile area to the existing Welgedacht Siding for distribution by rail or directly to prospective clients by road.

The proposed mine will require supporting infrastructure including water storage, sewage treatment, power supply, fuel storage and hauls roads.

Palmietkuilen will be the next greenfield operation to be launched after the successful launch of Khanye Colliery by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe in November 2018, Mankayi noted.

Mankayi said the mine would employ about 320 people. The mine will also invest in learnerships, bursaries, internships and adult education.

Also, projected expenditure on local procurement is about R26-million a year.

Menar Holding