The mine employed more than 1,000 people, the majority from the impoverished surrounding areas, it procured services from the local community, helped with farm and adult basic education training and had built new homes and infrastructure.
Between 2006 and 2016, it had spent R719m paying local community employee salaries, R54m on community projects and R300m on procuring services from community-based black economic empowerment companies.
It had also given the community a financial stake in the mine.
But resident Sabelo Dladla argued that the quality of life had changed completely. There was no land for grazing and livestock would “disappear” in the mining area.
“My family once owned 15 goats. Now it has none,” he said.
“Rainwater is contaminated and the steam is polluted. Blasting occurs twice a week – an alarm is sounded and the houses shake and windows rattle,” he said.
“What was once a quiet rural area alongside a wilderness area is now a vast industrial rock dump.”
The applicants alleged that the company had no environmental authorisation in terms of a plethora of relevant laws.
But Judge Seegobin knocked all of these arguments on the head.
“They seem to have adopted a scattergun approach, hoping to hit one target or another,” he said, dismissing the application with costs.