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Short course on law, policy and practice for mining-affected communities

- Lee-Anne Bruce

CALS is partnering with Lawyers for Human Rights and the Mandela Institute to host our first community capacitation short course online this week

The Environmental Justice programme at CALS is pleased to be presenting a short course entitled “Introduction to law, policy and practice for mining-affected communities” in partnership with Lawyers for Human Rights and the Mandela Institute at the Wits University School of Law. The course will be presented over Zoom from 2 – 8 November 2021 through online workshops, lectures and group activities. This course aims to be the first in a series of short courses that provides a formal academic programme based on the needs of communities affected by mining activities.

Mining-affected communities and their networks have achieved a growing formal recognition as stakeholders in mining through their advocacy and litigation efforts. However, the reality is that decisions about mining still do not reflect the rights and interests of those most affected by mining activities. A key challenge identified by communities is the vast disparity in their access to expertise and resources compared to mining companies, which prevents them from engaging equally in decision-making processes. Communities have therefore called for educational opportunities to develop the skills they need to engage the mining industry and for these qualifications to be recognised by higher education institutions. 

We are pleased to offer just such a short course designed for and with mining-affected communities, recognising their prior knowledge, supporting their existing struggles and ensuring participants can convert the certificate to credits for further studies at university. 

The focus of this first short course is on the core legal and policy frameworks that are especially pertinent to the environmental and socio-economic justice issues experienced by communities with a particular focus on the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA); the environmental impact assessment regime under the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA); administrative justice under the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA); and the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). This course is practice-oriented and encourages using and testing the processes and remedies the legislation has put in place. 

After completing this course, participants will:

  • Be able to explain the basic elements of the main mining and environmental legislation and policy;
  • Gain an enhanced ability to read and critically examine law and policy with a view to making written comments and oral inputs during public participation processes;
  • Gain an enhanced ability to identify which laws and processes apply to particular problems they face in their community and confidence in using the available administrative justice and access to information processes;
  • Gain an enhanced ability to make convincing legal arguments in communication with mining companies, state entities and other relevant role-players;
  • Have engaged in a discussion on combining legal and non-legal tactics and strategies for advancing environmental justice struggles in communities.

While skills development is vital, the ultimate end is for South Africa’s mineral wealth to be used to benefit the vast majority and for communities to choose their own development path. This requires building collective capacity to match the vast power and resources of the mining industry. We hope that this short course and those that follow will contribute towards this goal.

For more information, please contact