‘Massive victory’ for small community in mining rights case

Having a mining right does not surpass the rights of those who currently occupy the land.

This finding was made by the Constitutional Court on Thursday as it set aside an eviction order obtained by Pilanesberg Platinum Mines and Itireleng Bakgatla Mineral Resources (IBMR) against 13 families living on the farm Wilgespruit in North West.

The Constitutional Court held that the holder of a mining right must exhaust all procedures contained in the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) before resorting to an interdict to restrain interference with its mining activities.

The Lesetlheng community is a constituent part of the Bakgatla-Ba-Kgafela community‚ and contended that mining activities should not occur on its farm without its consent.

The matter has its beginning in 2003 when the Traditional Council of the Bakgatla-Ba-Kgafela Community registered IBMR Pty Ltd for the purpose of obtaining a prospecting permit. IBMR was granted a prospecting permit a year later.

In 2008‚ IBMR entered info the surface lease agreement in respect of the farm Wilgespruit with the minister of rural development and land reform and the Bakgatla community.

When the mining activities were about to begin in 2014‚ the 13 families in Wilgespruit applied for and obtained an order to stop the mining operations on its portion of the land.

The Lesetlheng community contended they were not approached in 2008 – when the surface lease agreement was entered into – as owners of the land but as members of the Bakgatla tribe.

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