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Monday Dec 09, 2013

Pretoria residents blast 'dodgy' mining plan

Pretoria residents appear to be in the dark as preparations gain momentum for the commencement of mining activities in Doornpoort, just north of the N4.

Last week the Pretoria News reported that the Department of Mineral Resources had awarded a five-year prospecting right to a property in Doornpoort, 10km north of the central business district, to Gemsbok Platinum (Pty) Ltd, a subsidiary of JSE-listed Sable Platinum (Pty) Ltd.

The right will allow the company to carry out mapping, sampling and geographical surveying for vanadium, titanium, iron ore and associated minerals to assess the viability of applying for a mining licence.

But the Doornpoort Residents Association, AfriForum and several other stakeholders in the area have appealed against the decision to grant the prospecting permit.

Arno Sebulke, who owns a smallholding in Doornpoort, said the entire process had been 'dodgy from the start', and he refused to support prospecting or mining in the area.

'First, their notice of intention was put up in all sorts of strange places on the eve of Christmas last year when we were all away.

'When we returned, we had just two days to file objections.'

Sebulke said it was well known that there were minerals on the property, and it was just a matter of time before Sable Platinum sought and was granted a mining licence.

'Doornpoort is a quiet area. Mining will bring noise and our borehole water will be contaminated.

'Why did they even consider bringing a mine in the middle of a city? Some of the minerals they intend to mine, such as titanium and vanadium, are known to be extremely dangerous. 'Open pit mines are always associated with dust. That alone can represent a health hazard. But if it is contaminated with vanadium or other particles, then it is a real health hazard to people.'

The Capital City Business Chamber has warned that while mining would provide a financial injection to Pretoria, infrastructure such as roads, stormwater drainage and electricity were inadequate and would be under more pressure.

Wonderboom Airport has registered as an interested and affected party. Its management said no information had been received to help evaluate the impact on its operations.

James Allan, chief executive of Sable Platinum, said the company was going ahead with the prospecting and would be commencing work early next year. It would begin with a magnetometer survey, measuring how magnetic the rocks were.

'We will probably use one drill to do the exploration drilling. The residents of Doornpoort will not be affected by the exploration at all.

'During the prospecting phase there will be no jobs created as the drilling is specialised and will be subcontracted to experts.'

Martiens van Staden, of the department of mining engineering at Tuks, said mining was regulated by law. Dangers to the environment and people's health were minimal, but this depended on how close such activities were to residential areas and how deep the mine was.

Pretoria News


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