Community revolt ejects mining giants — for now

By Celani Sikhakhane

The Indian company that is planning to mine iron ore in Melmoth in the north of KwaZulu-Natal has closed its offices for the safety of staff after violent protests last week.

Jindal Africa announced on Friday that it has decided to leave the Melmoth area temporarily after community members revolted against its operations in the area, calling for the mining giant to leave their land.

Community members who staged a 15-hour protest on Wednesday on route R66 claim the company wants to relocate them to Babanango, which falls under Ulundi Municipality, and dig up their loved ones’ graves to make way for the mine.

Jindal Africa’s Lindelihle Gcabashe said the protest was illegally organised by the Entembeni Crisis Forum.

He said the group does not represent the entire population of Mthonjaneni Municipality.

“While striving to meet the legal requirements for environmental authorisation, it is crucial that we prioritise the safety and well-being of both our office staff and community members visiting our premises.

“The threatening communication the company is receiving from the Entembeni Crisis Forum poses potential risks to the safety of our personnel, as well as the community at large. Jindal Africa has temporarily seized all activities and closed our offices,” said Gcabashe.

He said that if the affected graves are to be exhumed, it will be done in line with the legal requirements set by the SA Heritage Resources Agency and the KZN Amafa and Research

Institute.

Jindal Africa claims that most community members are in support of mining for job opportunities.

Over 1,000 applicants have filed their CVs to the company.

Pictured above: Trucks that were blocked in Melmoth on the R66 over the mining of iron ore protest

Picture source: Celani Sikhakhane

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