Engagement with Impala Platinum Mine The mines tell the world that they consult with local communities. Our experience is that this is not true.
This is our story of engagement with Impala Platinum mines. Ever since the mines came to our village we had problems with the impact of the mine. There were many meetings with Impala by different committees such as the Luka Crisis Committee and the Luka Youth Committee. In one of the consultations we raised the issue of the drying up of the bore holes. The mine agreed that they will pay for the communities’ water consumption. Nothing came of this. In 2003 we were told by Impala that they wanted to talk with the community about the new open casts they were setting up. We learnt that they were required by law to consult with the community. We called a community meeting and the people talked about the many problems they experienced because of the open casts and underground mining. The community decided that it was time to have a committee to speak on their behalf to impala. A meeting was held in early 2003 in a local school where a committee of 10 was elected. The committee drafted a memo of 17 demands which they wanted Impala to address. An important demand was that Impala should stop all open cast blasting immediately. Impala called a meeting in their Training centre. Before the meeting we went around the community and called the people with a loud hailer. People gathered and we marched through the village and then to Impala where we presented our Memo. We also submitted the same memo to the Department of Minerals and energy, The Royal Bafokeng Administration and the Municipality. But Impala ignored our Memo. They went on with their open cast blasting without consulting with us. We decided that we had to take action. One afternoon a group of us took kombi to the open pit and we sat down in the pit before the blasting started. The mine was forced to stop its operations. That same afternoon the mine manger from Shaft No 6 called us to a meeting. There he agreed that they will talk to us about our Memo. Ever since 2003, up to 2006, we have just been sitting in meetings, telling them how we feel. At first Impala appeared to be taking us seriously but it soon became clear that they were only keeping us talking and not serious about responding to our demands. We organised the community and held another march. We presented the Memo for a second time. Impala then held another stream of meetings. We complained that the meetings were getting nowhere because Impala was represented by junior officials who had no power to make any change. Impala then appointed a consultant, Metago Environmental Engineers, to represent them. We took the consultant on a tour of the community to show him the problems we experienced: Tomb stones destroyed in the explosion Cracked houses Pipelines, ventilation shafts and power lines which encircled the village blocking us from use of land But we did not hear from the consultant on our demands. Instead it appeared that the consultant was to get permission from the Department of Minerals and Energy for the company to resume blasting. We were informed by Impala that they were prepared to establish a community development trust fund as we had demanded however since this not only involved Luka but all mining villages where they were involved, we could not be trustees. Instead the Queen Mother of the Bafokeng Tribe was to be a trustee. We were totally ignored by Impala. We saw a secret memo to the company written by one of the consultants. This memo said that our demands were justified and that Impala should respond to them but Impala must be careful not to give any credit to the Luka Environmental Forum. In 2009 After Impala set up the trust fund they told us that they wanted more communities involved and not only Luka .They wanted to involve Kanana , Phokeng, Lefaragatlha ,Bonajala , Chaneng. We agreed with this because we thought that with more communities we could achieve more. This committee was to be the Impala Joint Community Forum (IJCF). However at the large meeting Impala would not agree with us on a working document that set out the term of reference. The strategy in setting up the IJCF was clearly to involve some many different groupings that it would be difficult for us to unite as a community. In this way Impala will control the IJCF. Impala shifted the focus away from Luka; they involved traditional leaders, councillors. At present, Impala has ended the IJCF and are setting up what they call an Engagement Centre. We don’t know what this is. Government is not helpful The role of the apartheid government and the Homeland Government was very clear. They were against our people and only looked after the interests of those who played their game. Sadly for us this has not change in our new democracy. Our government departments and representatives do no listen to our problems. They appear to be on the side of the mining corporations. We contacted the Department of Mineral and Energy (DME) about our problems as far back as in 2003. The DME would simply write letters, setting out guidelines that the mines should follow. Impala ignored these guidelines. The DME would not do any follow up. We do not get any support from the provincial and local government. Right now Impala is finding ways to avoid talking with our organization. They say that we are not representative only a Councillor is representative. They appear to get a lot of corporation from the Councillor.
Memorandum of Demands In May 2003 we set out our demands to Impala Platinum. We also copied this to several local, provincial and national government offices.
1. Stoppage of the current Merensky open cast with immediate effect.
2. A stoppage of the proposed UG” open cast with immediate effect
3. Removal of Ventilations within the radius 7km rule and operations started after 1997 based on falsified information issued by Impala Mines to government Departments.
4. Disclose environmental management programme report
5. Based on the contamination of our underground water supply ,we demand free water provision to the Luka community
6. Free Medical examination for every newly – born infant up to the child’s school- going age on the basis of possible hazards from emissions.
7. Fee access to Impala Hospital and emergency services
8. Fund be made available for second opinion on every medical examination
9. Compensate Luka residents for environmental damages caused by Impala mining corporation since 1967
10. Removal and eradication of tailings dams within 7km of Luka village
11. We demand to be equal partners on all minerals exploited and other mining related businesses in our area
12. Total eradication of unemployment experienced by local people
13. Demand as Luka community to be direct beneficiaries
14. That impala must assist in the establishment of Luka Community Development Trust 15. That impala Mines must assist in the establishment of the police station
16. We demand that Impala Mines give the Luka Community the necessary respect
17. That it must stop from taking Luka Community for granted.