By Tony Carnie
The names of all the companies, directors and shareholders who hoped to profit from a coal-mining venture on the fence-line of Imfolozi game reserve must be disclosed immediately, anti-mining campaigners demanded yesterday.
Junior mining company Ibutho Coal (Pty) Ltd has been granted provisional mining rights to more than 14 000ha in the Fuleni area next to the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, with indications that it hopes to export large volumes of anthracite to China and India. However, a coalition of environmental groups fear that dynamite blasting, dust, coal trucks and mine dumps at the proposed Fuleni mine will degrade nature conservation and tourism in the neighbouring Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.
Jeremy Ridl, a Durban-based environmental law specialist who played a key role in blocking plans to mine the coastal sand dunes at Lake St Lucia two decades ago, said it was essential that there be a full public disclosure about the identity of all potential beneficiaries of the Fuleni open-cast mine.
In a written submission to the Jacana consultancy company that will conduct an environmental impact assessment, Ridl said preliminary work by Jacana seemed to show little appreciation for the potential damage to the wilderness area. “The full economic picture must be presented. This must include full disclosure of all the beneficiaries of the mine, including its shareholders? as well as the shareholders of the shareholders,” said Ridl.
Although Ibutho Coal appears to have no significant track record in coal mining, a background information document by its environmental consultants suggests that anthracite will be trucked to the Richards Bay Coal Terminal for export to the Far East, India, Europe and the Middle East.
The privately operated coal terminal is owned by major mining houses, such as Anglo Operations, GlencoreXstrata, Sasol and Total, that also control allocations of coal exported from the terminal.
Over recent years, however, a number of smaller, black-owned mining houses, including the Quattro group, have secured limited export allocations from the terminal.
Responding to questions from The Mercury last night, Ibutho Coal director Tom Borman confirmed that his company had no shareholding in the terminal. Nor did it have an export allocation that would allow it to use the terminal. Borman said Ibutho was still in the process of securing mining rights at Fuleni. “Once we start producing, we can get an allocation,” he said.
Borman is one of six directors of Ibutho Coal. The others are Peter Kennedy Gain, Jan Johannes Bronkhorst, Thembi Myeni, Pholwane Locksley Pege and Menzi Gqweta. Borman said that they were talking to financiers. “We are going through the process of gathering the concerns of affected parties and will respond to these concerns thereafter,” he said.
Borman could not say when Ibutho would complete the public consultation process, but that they hoped to do so before the end of the year.