The Department of Water Affairs (DWA) on Wednesday issued a list of 100 mines operating without water licences, four of which – including assets belonging to JSE-listed majors Exxaro and Gold Field – have not yet applied for such a licence.
The department has also said it was aiming to clear its applications backlog by October 31.
Replying to a question from Democratic Alliance MP Gareth Morgan, Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said her department has regrouped applications per sector and prioritised applications from Eskom coal suppliers.
“This includes the prioritisation of applications for coal mines as feeders to power generation for Eskom,” read the written reply. “The aim is to ensure that all applications are dealt with by end-October 2011, subject to the submission for all required information by clients.”
Listing the 100 mines operating without a licence, Molewa indicated four which had not yet submitted applications. These are Gold Fields’ Welkom mine (Beatrix), the Arnot Colliery which belongs to Exxaro, the Sumo Coal Kopermyne Colliery as well as PMG Mine in the Northern Cape.
Most of the remaining 96 mines’ applications are being processed, with some required to submit more information to the department.
Gold Fields spokesperson Sven Lunsche said Beatrix was operating in line with the current Water Act, which made provision for permits issued under the old Water Act. “We have been informed that this authority is sufficient by the Free State division of the department,” said Lunsche.
“Nevertheless, we are currently in the process of applying for a licence despite operating lawfully under the current dispensation, and the process is nearing completion. All the preparatory work have been completed and the engagement with the DWA on the clarification of water uses is being finalised. We expect the application to be in over the next two months.”
A spokesperson from Exxaro was not immediately available to comment.
Molewa also listed five companies to which pre-directives or directives have been issued since August 2010 for contravention of licence conditions.
Among those were Anglo American’s New Vaal Colliery.
Anglo American spokesperson Moeketsi Mofokeng said the directive was in relation to the discharge of a prescribed quality of water into the nearby river system.
“New Vaal has (subsequently) installed mobile water treatment plants that can treat up to 15 megalitres a day to potable quality,” said Mofokeng. “The bulk of this water goes to the Lethabo power station for use in its cooling towers.”