LEPHALALE — A public meeting was held on Wednesday 14 November at Mogol Club to discuss the environmental authorization for the proposed development of a road diversion, rail loop and pipeline for Temo Coal Mine (Pty) Ltd (Temo).
Digby Wells Environmental was appointed by Temo to facilitate and complete the environmental and legal applications for the authorizations required to develop ancillary infrastructure associated with the Temo Mine. Representatives from Digby Wells led the meeting.
Temo currently has an approved mining right which was authorized by the Department of Mineral Resources on 27 September 2013. The Project was also authorized in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998) and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations thereunder, dated 18 June 2010, but it has since been repealed.
Temo is thus once again applying for Environmental Authorization, in terms of the NEMA, and a Water Use License (WUL) in terms of the National Water Act (NWA), 1998 (Act 36 of 1998) (NWA) to construct a rail loop, road diversion and pipeline.
The Temo Mine is located approximately 60 km from Lephalale and situated on various farm portions, namely Verlorenvallei 246 LQ, Duikerpan 249 LQ, Japie 714 LQ, Hans 713 LQ and Kleinberg 252 LQ. Temo proposes to mine by using open pit mining methods and the open pit will be situated entirely within the farm Verlorenvallei 246 LQ.
After a full briefing, interested and affected parties were given the opportunity to ask questions.
Jan Brits, Project Manager Temo Coal, said if all goes according to plan, construction will start in 2022 and full production in 2025.
Landowners of the affected farms have raised concerns like air pollution (in the case of a railway line), a servitude road that has not been registered yet and the overall impact on the affected and neighboring farms. It was also stated that all the farms that will be affected by the project are not mentioned in the documentation and thus it is incomplete. These farms include Gruisfontein and New Holland. Brits replied by saying that the documents will be adjusted.
Brits said that the mentioned farms are still registered as “agriculture” and that will have to be changed to “mining”.
The owner of Verlorenvallei said there is no servitude registered on the farm. “They have applied and applied for a railway line, but there is no servitude on that farm and I don’t know what has happened in the meantime. It’s going to have an enormous impact on the farms. When will these activities begin?” he asked.
Brits said the coal market worldwide changed dramatically during the past six months.
“They are busy with a feasibility study, we are registered in terms of an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and the IRP of South Africa was published a few weeks ago. We will now know what the future energy need in South Africa is. “There will not be many coal fired power stations built anymore. We are registered as an Independent Power Producer (IPP) so we know exactly what market will be feasible over a period of 20 years.
“We have to sort out the surface rights and get the servitude registered as part of the transformation or the re-registration from land use to mining industry. The process will kick off in 2019 as soon as there is more clarity about the detail,” Brits explained.
He said, in terms of water supply, the first strategy was to make use of MCWAP 2, but no-one knows when it will actualize. The plan is now to construct a bulk water pipeline connecting the Temo Mine to the Lephalale Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW). The purpose of the pipeline is to provide water to the mine.
“Just to give certainty that we have a solid strategy – Temo Coal is one of the few companies that are currently developing or trying to develop coal-based projects,” Brits said.
He also said the planned power station to which Temo will supply coal would be in the Witbank area. The coal will be transported to Witbank via rail loop.
“If you look at the cost curve of mines in this area, rail transport amounts to a small fraction of the cost. Rail transport is economically justifiable. We work together with Boikarabelo about how we are going to make use of changes to the current railway line so that we don’t have to build another railway line. All the trains will be on one line.
“Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) is comfortable with this decision and this railway line is also linked with Botswana,” he said.
Other concerns include housing for the construction teams as well as the impact of this project on the roads.
Other issues that were addressed included the consultation process and how far did project management go to ensure that people were addressed in their home languages.
A representative from Green Peace said: “I am just trying to understand, in the pipeline area that is proposed, how extensively did you consult people in the area? I am concerned about the consultation processes if you haven’t reached out to the people yet. For instance, were notices in the local languages placed to truly inform the entire area?
If not, people will resist the project, and you don’t want resistance from people when things are already happening. There are communities that you have to consider. Out of an environmental perspective, those things should be considered as their rights,” he concluded.