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Open letter on failure to hold mines accountable


Open Letter to Minister Mantashe on the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s failure to hold mining companies accountable

Dear Minister Mantashe, 

We write to you as the Sekhukhune Combined Mining-Affected Communities, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies and Amnesty International South Africa to raise concerns about the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s (DMRE) failure to hold three mining companies accountable for their non-compliance with aspects of their Social and Labour Plans (SLP) obligations, resulting in human rights violations including rights to access healthcare, water, education, and livelihoods.

On 22 February 2022, we released a report titled Unearthing the Truth: How the mines failed communities in the Sekhukhune region of South Africa. The report found that the DMRE is failing to hold Twickenham Platinum Mine, Marula Platinum Mine and Sefateng Chrome Mine accountable for their non-compliance with aspects of their SLP obligations.

It also found that:

Our research team interviewed community members who recounted that there was very minimal presence of, and contact with, the DMRE in their communities. The Department was not perceived as an institution that looks after the rights of communities, nor one to hold mining companies accountable to their SLP obligations. Interviewees described one instance in which explosive material not removed by a mining company led to injuries suffered by young children playing in the area. They stated that to-date no one has been held criminally or civilly responsible, nor has adequate compensation been provided.

“[The mine] made a commitment to take care of injured kids, pay school and medical bills and if grown up they’d take to mines to work there and to help families. Up until today there’s nothing that’s happened. Even DMR made [the] same promise and [has] done nothing up until today,” said one research participant.

Detailed findings pertaining to your Department, Minister, are outlined in Chapter 4 of our report.

We have written to your office and to the Department directly on numerous occasions over the past year, but there has been no response. This includes a total of 18 follow-up emails and 14 unanswered phone calls in 2021. The most recent letters were sent to your office and the Department on 22 February 2022 and follow up emails sent on 11 March 2022. We have yet to receive a response.

We once again call on you, Minister, to:

  • Develop and implement an action plan outlining the steps that will be taken to ensure that the DMRE increases its capacity to monitor SLP compliance with clear timelines for the implementation and take any necessary action to ensure a more effective enforcement of the provisions of the SLPs;
  • Require, by policy or legislative measures, that all company SLP reports to the DMRE are publicly disclosed and made available and accessible to employees, communities, and other stakeholders; and
  • Review the human and financial resources available to the DMRE to monitor and enforce SLPs and increase these resources to enable effective monitoring.

As several heads of state, investors and stakeholders gear up for this year’s Mining Indaba in Cape Town, we call on you to keep the rights of mining-affected communities in mind and address the issues raised above.


  • Sekhukhune Combined Mining-Affected Communities
  • Centre for Applied Legal Studies
  • Amnesty International South Africa

For more information, please contact:

From the Centre for Applied Legal Studies

From Amnesty International South Africa

From Sekhukhune Combined Mining-Affected Communities