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'Mine management knew about dam leakages hours before Jagersfontein disaster, but did nothing'

17 September 2022

Mine management knew about leakages in the Jagersfontein dam wall, but did nothing.

This is according to the parliamentary portfolio committee on mineral resources and energy, which began a three-day oversight visit to the Free State town on Friday.

It said mineworkers informed its members that “management of the mine was aware [of leakages in] the dam wall four hours before the disaster took place, but it did not take action”.

One person was killed, four are missing, hundreds were displaced and homes destroyed when the dam burst on Sunday, said the committee, which visited the communities of Ipopeng and Charlesville.

TimesLIVE has emailed the miner for comment. This story will be updated when it responds.

Meanwhile, the department of mineral resources & energy (DMRE) told the committee it did not have jurisdiction over the tailings dam in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) due to a 2009 court judgment. Based on that, the DMRE did not conduct inspections as the tailings dam was a processing facility and not a mine, the committee said.

Its chairperson, Sahlulele Luzipo, reiterated that tailing dams are mining operations as commodities are extracted from them and therefore the MPRDA must be amended to include tailing dams to ensure the DMRE has jurisdiction over them.

He said the disaster had affected 164 households, displacing 399 people who were being temporarily accommodated by the municipality. The damage caused by the tragedy also affected electrical and water infrastructure.

Luzipo said the committee will compile a report on what it has seen and heard from those affected. This will be tabled in the National Assembly. The committee will also engage with other relevant parliamentary committees as the consequences of the disaster demand immediate attention and a multipronged approach to ensure the communities get the assistance they need.

Source: TimesLIVE

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