MAC: Mines and Communities

South Africa: Ivanhoe Mines ordered to stop exhuming graves at Platreef Mine

Published by MAC on 2016-12-18
Source: The Globe and Mail, Reviewonline.co.za (2016-12-24)

The Resolution issued by the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa

A court has ordered Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. to stop exhuming and relocating dozens of historic graves at the site of its planned Platreef platinum mine in Limpopo province, some 280 kilometres northeast of Johannesburg.

Ivanplats, an Ivanhoe Mines subsidiary, identified 154 graves around the mining site, in an area where it plans to build part of its infrastructure. Community members who oppose the mining project went to court, seeking an urgent order to halt the exhumations.

Hundreds of the $1.6-billion mine’s opponents have held a series of protests against the project over the past two years.

Previous on MAC: 2014-11-30 South Africa: Police Fire Rubber Bullets at Ivanhoe Mine Protesters

Grave relocating halted

According to Aubrey Langa, Ivanplats had two days to challenge the interim order which they failed to.

http://reviewonline.co.za/187461/grave-relocating-halted/

December 9, 2016

LIMPOPO – “We have gained an interim order by the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa last Monday that orders Ivanplats to stop with the grave relocation programme that commenced on 14 November at the Platreef Mine,” Community Leader, Aubrey Langa told Bosveld.

According to Langa, Ivanplats had two days to challenge the interim order which they failed to.

Langa explained: “Ivanplats are not allowed to operate within that area as it is excluded from the broader authorised mining area, by the letter of grant issued on 30 May 2014. The reason why they are prohibited from operating within this area is because it is an ancestral grave site. Their aim by relocating the graves is to include this sacred area into their broader mining right area.”

Langa said they are aware of the permit issued by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) granting Ivanplats the right to relocate the graves. “However, we are of the view that the issuing of the permit was unlawful since we launched an appeal against the mining right and environmental management report in July 2014. This appeal precludes any acceptance by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR). Thereafter Ivanplats should not be launching any application pending the finalisation of the appeal. Rendering SAHRA’s permit unlawful. Before the appeal was finalised Ivanplats started with the removal of graves rendering the appeal useless,”Langa concluded.

Vice President: Communication and Public Affairs at Ivanhoe’s, Jeremy Michaels gave the following statement regarding the interim order: Ivanplats an Ivanhoe Mines subsidiary, has been advised of an interim order that was issued by the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa.

Ongoing construction of the Platreef mine will not be affected by the interim order. Ivanplats was not advised of the interdict application in advance of the 28 November “ex parte” court hearing and therefore did not have an opportunity to present evidence before the court reached its interim decision. The interim order, which remains subject to finalization, directs Ivanplats to suspend the Graves Relocation Programme at the company’s Platreef mine development site. The court action was initiated by a number of individuals and organizations.

Ivanplats will present supporting evidence and seek to have the interim order set aside when the court conducts an open hearing on 26 January. Ivanplats, naturally, will comply with the terms of the court’s interim order.

Following careful planning of the graves relocation programme in line with global best practise, Ivanplats received all official authorisations required to embark on the relocation of graves in the vicinity of the Platreef mine development site. From the outset, Ivanplats has responsibly managed the graves relocation process with the appropriate dignity, respect and sensitivity. The company is committed to resolving any disputes in the same spirit, but also will defend its rights and those of directly affected families who support and have consented to the planned relocations of graves.

It is also important to note that Ivanplats at all times complies with the relevant laws of South Africa. We also respect the rights of individuals to challenge the company’s processes but question the motives of some individuals who continuously seek to disrupt the construction of a new mine which brings with it immense benefits for our local host communities.”


In South Africa, a Friedland-backed mine is told to stop exhuming historic graves

Geoffrey York

The Globe and Mail - http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-business/african-and-mideast-business/court-orders-ivanhoe-mines-to-stop-exhuming-graves-at-south-african-site/article33201784/

4 December, 2016

A court has ordered Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. to stop exhuming and relocating dozens of historic graves at the site of its planned $1.6-billion platinum mine in South Africa.

The Vancouver-based company says it is complying with the interim order, but will fight it in a court hearing in late January. It says the court order hasn’t affected construction at the site, where its first shaft has reached a depth of more than 120 metres underground.

The court order is the latest sign of tensions between Ivanhoe and some community members near the mining site in Limpopo province, about 280 kilometres northeast of Johannesburg.

The mine is expected to become the biggest new platinum mine in the world. The company’s billionaire founder and executive chairman, Robert Friedland, has called it the world’s lowest-cost and longest-life platinum mine.

Hundreds of the mine’s opponents have held a series of protests against the project over the past two years, including a protest at the Canadian high commission in Pretoria. They have also attempted to launch challenges against the mine in the courts and at government departments and agencies.

Ivanhoe has identified 154 graves around its mining site, in an area where it plans to build infrastructure for the mine. About two weeks ago, it began exhuming and relocating the graves. It says it obtained permission from the families of each person buried in the graves.

Community members who oppose the mining project went to court to seek an urgent order to halt the exhumations.

They argue that Ivanhoe failed to consult the community properly, and they say the company used financial payments – known as “wake fees” – to manipulate the next of kin. The company denies this, saying that the “wake fees” of about $2,600 each are intended to compensate the families for the costs of traditional ceremonies and rituals at the reburials.

Last Monday, after the company had exhumed more than 50 graves, the High Court of South Africa issued an interim order, prohibiting the company from “destroying, damaging, altering, exhuming and removing” any graves or graveyards at the site.

The court also authorized the South African police to enforce the order with arrests if necessary.

Jeremy Michaels, a spokesman for Ivanhoe’s subsidiary Ivanplats, which owns 64 per cent of the platinum project, said the company “was not advised” that the opponents were seeking the court order, and “therefore did not have an opportunity to present evidence before the court reached its interim decision.”

He said the company will seek to overturn the interim order at a court hearing scheduled for Jan. 26. The company has received “all official authorizations required” for the grave relocations and has managed the process with “dignity, respect and sensitivity,” he told The Globe and Mail.

The mine is currently employing 550 permanent and contract workers, and it will provide thousands of additional jobs in the future, the company says. It expects the first shaft to reach the platinum deposit in late 2017. Construction of a bigger second shaft is expected to begin next year.

The company has complained of violence by opponents of the mine, including incidents of arson, assault and illegal blockades. The opponents have their own complaints of violence. Police have fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters at the mine site, injuring some of them. Opponents have also alleged that they were threatened with the loss of pensions, welfare payments and farm fields if they refused to co-operate with the mine. The company denies any knowledge of such threats.

One community member who strongly criticized the company, Holly Maponya, was shot by an unknown assailant or assailants in April this year near his house. Police have said they are investigating the incident, and Ivanhoe says there is no evidence that the incident was connected to its development of the mine.

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