“Time to protect the mine’ says Tendele CEO, Jan Du Preez

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Open letter slams the Global Enviromental Trust (GET) for taking Tendele Mining to court

In “a plea for unity” in April 2019, Tendele CEO Jan du Preez, said it was the first time in the history of Somkhele coal mine that “an open letter” had been addressed to all the various parties and stakeholders in the community.

“There is nothing that happens in the Mine, that does not have an impact in the Community. We are all interlinked. We are truly, ‘One Mine, One Team and One Community’,” wrote Du Preez.

He said a recent 13 day unprotected work stoppage had “cost us millions – and we will never truly recover from this . . . and the implications will be felt forever all over the Mpukunyoni Community as our investment and support and assistance will be radically reduced.”

“The costs of this over the next 10 years (if we can secure future mining areas) will be millions and millions and millions – and it will take all our combined efforts to ensure the mine stays afloat,” said Du Preez.

“Do we allow the mine to close, 1500 people to out of a job, entrepreneurs to lose all their contracts and lose their business . . . or do we at least give it a chance? . . . Only a strong mine make any difference to anyone! A Mine that closes is no good to anyone”

“It is time to take hands / to agree to move forward / to give it our best shot to secure future mining areas. Without future mining areas the mine will stop operating by September 2019.”

He went on to state that it was “time to protect the mine against those people that would like to close the mine like the GET Foundation that continue to spread rumours, publish lies and deal in untruths.”

“Ask yourself how many jobs have they ever produced? Ask yourself what will happen if they manage to close the Mine? As you all know, they have been trying for years to close the mine (that is right, read again: TO CLOSE THE MINE).”

Du Preez said the allegations that Tendele had no environmental authorisation, land use authority approval or approval from any municipality, or waste management licence and written removal to damage, alter, exhume or remove any graves from their original position, had been rejected in court.

He quoted the following extracts from Judge Rishi Seegobin’s ruling.

“ . . . I conclude that the applicants have failed to make a proper case for the relief claimed”.

“ . . . the applicants have simply failed to put up cogent evidence to support their contentions that Tendele is mining unlawfully and without the requisite authorisations.”

“ Applicants (had) not afforded the authorities concerned the opportunity to investigate the complaints before deciding to institute these proceedings”

“Allegations were vague, generalized and unsubstantiated.”

In summary, said Du Preez, the Judge’s ruling that a proper case was not made on in the first place against the Mine and that a “scatter gun approaching hoping to hit one target or another” was followed.

While GET’s application had been dismissed with costs, Tendele had, as a sign of goodwill offered not to implement the cost order, said Du Preez.

“[But] it is no surprise that the Get Foundation have appealed, and your support will be required some time later this year,” said Du Preez.

“We have been asking the Get Foundation for years to join of MCMF (Mpukunyoni Community Mining Forum) structures, and share their experiences so that we can all learn from them. However sadly they have rejected all our approaches,” said Du Preez.

On community communication structures, Du Preez said a “ROADMAP AGREEMENT” was developed during 2016 and signed and adopted in 2017 to address historical and current contentious issues between the mine and surrounding communities. A representative communication structure, the Mpukunyoni Community Mining Forum was also established, representing

  • The Mpunkonyoni Traditional Council (MTC) consisting of the Indunas of 30 the Izigodi of Mpukunyoni
  • Nkosi (chiefs) and Ndunankulu (chief indunas, who are permanent invitees
  • Mtubatuba Local Municipality (democratically elected coucnillors of the wards where the mine operates)
  • Directly Affected Communities (DACs) representing copmmunities that have been/have to be relocated
  • Local entrepreneurs that deal with the mine
  • Tendele mine, including organized labour representing AMCU and NUM

He said the MCMF had an Exco consisting four local leaders and the mine and meet as often as required. The intention he said was to assist local leaders take ownership of local issues.

The MCMF, said Du Preez, “assists with relocation issues until a DAC committee is elected in a particular area. Thereafter all negotiations are private between the Mine and the families to be relocated”.

He said the MCMF  was always open to all organisations and individuals “who want to engage in a meaningful manner if it can assist the mine to remain strong as only a strong mine can assist the Community.”

After dealing with the background to, and decisions arising from the recent unprotected strike, Du Preez, said “it must always be reiterated that we are “One Mine, One Team, One Community”. Let us all holds hands irrespective of any forms of differences that may or may have existed and ensure we can have a Mine for ten years.”

“It is truly to our interest that we attain future mining areas as this mine is like a tree and it thus needs to be strong and be able to provide fruits to its Employees, Community and business partners. There should also be a fair return to the Mine’s shareholders. If the demands on the tree are too much, the tree will die and we will all suffer. As previously communicated, without future mining areas, we don’t have a mine.”

Let’s all have a unity driven attitude . . . in ensuring vigour and strength in our current operation future mining areas. Last but not least, safety and peace in the Community remains an essential aspect which should be at the centre in all that we do. As much as need coal to sustain the business, we do not want coal that has blood on its hands,” concluded Du Preez.

>> Click here to read the original management brief.