On 11 September 2020, the High Court passed a judgement which clarified that local communities on and around the land which are under application for mining rights, could not be treated as mere members of the general public because they will be affected by the environmental impacts of the mining operations. This was based on an application brought before the court by The Head of the Umgungundlovu Community Council, after Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources (SA) Pty Ltd made an application for mining rights after titanium was discovered on their land, in which this community live and work.
Also, the judgement highlighted that the PAIA process, as guided by the Department of Mineral Resources Internal Manual is firstly far too slow to be used as a mechanism for Interested and Affected Parties to obtain information during the MRPDA consultation process and that the process in which the DMR deals with consultation is as though they do not know or consider the identity of the Interested and Affected Parties and therefore ‘meaningful consultation’ is simply not taking place because it should “entail discussion of ideas on an equal footing”, while both parties consider the advantages and disadvantages while making concessions where necessary.
Most certainly a win for communities and Interested and Affected Parties, especially in the face of the contentious forms in which various environmental and mining consultation processes are being carried out during COVID lockdown periods.
Download the Judgement.