Pilanesberg Platinum Mine (PPM) has reached an agreement with the Lesetlheng community that will enable mining to commence on the farm Wilgespruit in the months to come.In 2014, PPM with the applicable mining rights, brought an application to evict certain members of the Lesetlheng community that did not accept resettlement as contemplated in the mining plan agreed with the Bakgatla Ba Kgafela Tribal Authority and the Department of Mineral Resources. The High Court in Mafikeng granted an interdict against PPM, preventing it from continuing with mining operations on the Wilgespruit farm. Notwithstanding appeals by PPM being successful in both the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal, the Constitutional Court, on 24 October 2018, overturned the High Court order that had been awarded to PPM to evict the community members from the farm. The Constitutional Court held that mines can no longer rely solely only on their mining right to displace a person or community from their land to exercise their mining right. The Constitutional Court essentially directed PPM and the Lesetlheng community to negotiate a settlement.
The settlement now reached not only provides for significant monetary compensation to resettle community members from the Wilgespruit farm, where mining will commence, but also includes a transparent and fair procurement model, together with a progressive Social and Labour Plan, that will benefit both the mine and the broader community. “We have travelled a long road together and I am pleased that this agreement enables both the mine and the community to realise future benefits,” commented Erich Clarke CEO of PPM.Community voices have expressed their satisfaction and have said that although negotiations were not always easy, they are excited by the opportunities this will create for their community, as well as for other mining-affected communities, involved in similar negotiations with mining companies. There is hope that this agreement will be used as a roadmap to build further participation between the community and PPM. “We look forward to converting words into actions to deliver demonstrable value to our local communities and broader stakeholders. We see this as a victory for all parties and a historical milestone for our industry,” concluded Clarke.