Brits Granite Mines

Jun 6, 2009

Mission: Monitor the degradation caused by legal and illegal mining of the granite koppies outside Brits
Date: Early June 2009
Requesting organisation: Andrie Loubser of the Brits Brokenveld Bewarings Forum (BBBF)
Location: Brits, North West Province
Pilots: Abrie Kruger and Wouter van Ginkel

In early June we were asked by Andrie Loubser of the Brits Brokenveld Bewarings Forum (BBBF) to fly their annual survey to monitor the degradation caused by legal and illegal mining of the granite koppies outside Brits.  No sooner had we accomplished this survey for the BBBF, flown by Bateleurs pilot Abrie Kruger in his microlight, when we were asked by Andrie for a second flight, this time to give award-winning environmental journalist, Elise Tempelhoff, a bird’s-eye view of the destruction of the koppies.  Bateleurs pilot Wouter van Ginkel flew the second mission in his Cessna 182, with passengers Andrie, Elise and cameraman, Herman Verwey.  Extracts from Andrie’s reports appear below:

The second Brits survey team.  From the left:  Bateleurs pilot Wouter van Ginkel, journalist Elise Tempelhoff, and cameraman Herman Verwey.  The photo was taken by Andrie Loubser of the BBBF

“The flight in mid-June 2009 confirmed that the degradation caused by legal and illegal mining of the Brits Koppies is worse each year, and that there is clearly an entrenched pattern of total indifference by the authorities.  The Department of Minerals & Energy( DME), regardless of worldwide concern regarding the carbon footprint of mankind, does not pay even lip-service in terms of honouring the processes and principles stipulated by our own South African laws.  The DME allows the perpetrators to carry on as usual, and the more the laws and regulations change, the more the activities and the side effects stay the same. More mines have been abandoned without any attempt at rehabilitation of the landscape, although certain mines have made a token, meaningless attempt at visual camouflage, especially where this is visible from the roadside.
Flying with Abrie Kruger in his Beaver was, as always, a pleasure. Thank you to The Bateleurs for your sincere concern about our environment and your willingness always to be of assistance. I would like to dedicate our flight on 14 June 2009 to the memory of our beloved Nora.”

An open cast mine at Marikana

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“Our aerial survey in mid-June provided the BBBF with photographic evidence of the number of derelict granite mines that are not being rehabilitated.  

We showed these photos to Elise Tempelhoff of Media 24 and she was alarmed enough to want to survey the area herself. Elise is an award-winning environmental journalist and has taken up the cudgels in her own home town against the pollution of  the Vaal triangle by Iscor, as well as coal mining in Mpumalanga, radioactive water pollution in the Wonderspruit area, and many other environmental causes for which she acts as champion. Thanks to The Bateleurs and volunteer pilot Wouter van Ginkel, we were able to provide Elise with a valuable aerial perspective of the extent of the problem.  Our second aerial survey demonstrated that granite mines and platinum and chrome mines are all perpetrators of environmental devastation.  In addition, informal settlements with no services have mushroomed in the area, adding the problem of pollution as a result of human occupancy.  These settlements provide legal and illegal mines with labour on a short-term contract basis.  Contractors are by definition not employees, and so the mines cannot be held responsible for housing their temporary labour force.
We appreciate the time and concern given to this survey by Elise and her photographer, Herman Verwey.  We hope that the information obtained from this aerial perspective will form the basis of an exposé of the mis-management of the mining industry by the DME.  To The Bateleurs and Wouter van Ginkel:  thank you once again for your unwavering support.”

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