Limpopo mining saga continues and three rands is better than nothing, it seems

NEWS ANALYSIS
In the seven months that the JSE-listed Bauba Platinum mined the land atop which Limpopo’s Jibeng community sits, it paid them R149 000.

In stark contrast, the landowner, lawyer Post Moloto, received about R577 500 over the same period.

Although the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act has done away with the requirement for companies that began mining after 2004 to pay mining royalties to communities, it still calls for compensation to be paid to people affected by mining activities.

However, the Act does not specify how much compensation should be paid and how it should be determined.

In 2010, Bauba Platinum bought 60% of Bauba A Hlabirwa Mining Investments, which had prospecting rights on a farm called Moejelijk.

The farm is situated in a poverty-stricken area of Sekhukhune called Jibeng. The village is about 30km from Burgersfort. The majority of the people who live there are unemployed; their only hope of income is the mining companies.

Moloto, through Jibeng Investments, was allegedly paid R82 500 a month for the right to lease his land. Bauba Platinum offered the Jibeng community R3 a tonne for the chrome ore it mined.

It appears R3 is better than nothing.

A month ago the Mail & Guardian reported on the tangled web between two kings who claimed to be the rightful leaders of the Bapedi nation in Sekhukhune. The M&G also reported that Bauba Platinum’s “no entry” signs were found on an area that was being illegally mined. The company denied any involvement in illegal mining activities, adding that it had taken steps to interdict illegal miners from encroaching on land for which Bauba held a mining permit.

The company mined in Jibeng between March and November last year, and paid compensation to the Moejelijk community association, which represents the Jibeng residents.

“The only royalties to date had been paid to the Jibeng community (entirely separate from the Royal Council), which is the community in residence on the farm Moejelijk and surrounding farms,” Tinus Slabber, one of the company’s lawyers, said at the time.

Moloto says the lease agreement reached with Bauba Platinum has lapsed and is yet to be renewed.

According to the lease agreement, Bauba would lease the land for R75 000 a month for the first six months of the 18-month contract and then would pay R82 500 a month for the remainder of the agreement, giving a total of R1 035 000.

“They came here, signed a memorandum of agreement — which, among other things, was to offer the community a certain percentage [of the profits made from mining the land]. We had agreed [on] 26%,” says Moloto.

He said this never transpired; instead, the company went behind his back and negotiated the R3 a tonne deal with the Jibeng community.

“I can’t let my land [lie] idle while no one tells me anything — and on top of that, the community continues to suffer as the company has stopped mining indefinitely,” he added.

But Bauba Platinum has denied making any payments to Moloto.

“To the best of our clients’ knowledge, Mr Post Moloto is linked to a private company which is the landowner of Moejelijk farm. No payments were made by our clients to Mr Moloto,” Nicqui Galaktiou, another lawyer for Bauba Platinum, said in response to questions from the M&G.

The company asked the M&G to provide it with proof of any payments made to Moloto. When the M&G furnished it with a lease agreement signed by both Moloto and a Bauba Platinum company representative, Galaktiou changed tack, saying that the company had made payments to Jibeng, a company owned by Moloto.

“Our clients did make monthly payments to Jibeng in accordance with a lease. We cannot understand how you believe that payments made to a separate legal entity are equivalent to paying an individual in his personal capacity,” she told the M&G.

“We confirm that Bauba Mining was liable for rental in terms of the lease and Bauba Mining met its obligations accordingly.

“Any disputes relating thereto should be referred to court for adjudication on the facts and not through the media based on speculation,” Galaktiou added.

She also confirmed that Bauba Platinum had paid R149 000 to the Jibeng community, in accordance with the agreement.

According to Moloto, Bauba Platinum paid him until September last year — this amounted to about R1-million.

Bauba Platinum has ceased its mining operations in the area.

“Our clients’ mining operation was put on care and maintenance towards the end of 2015,” said Galaktiou.

Moloto has approached the department of mineral resources to complain about the company allegedly reneging on its lease agreement. He is also appealing Bauba Platinum’s mining permit.

Athandiwe Saba
Athandiwe Saba

Athandiwe Saba is a multi award-winning journalist who is passionate about data, human interest issues, governance and everything that isn’t on social media. She is an author, an avid reader and trying to find the answer to the perfect balance between investigative journalism, online audiences and the decline in newspaper sales. It’s a rough world and a rewarding profession.

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