“We are not in the coal-mining business and have no intention to do so,” says Corobrik’s chief executive officer.

Corobrik’s chief executive officer Nick Booth has broken his silence after claims the company is to mine the coal deposits at its open-cast clay brick production facility near Rietvlei Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Pretoria.

“The coal in the clay is more of a headache and nuisance,” he said. “We are not in the coal-mining business and have no intention to do so.”

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This is after environmental campaigning organisation Greenpeace Africa started a petition to stop the brickmaking giant mining the coal.

Corobrik’s environmental plan was approved by the department of mineral resources and energy last year.

The department requested that Corobrik apply for a coal mining licence to mine the coal and have it removed.

Corobrik not coal miners

“We would not have been allowed to sell the coal obviously, as then we would be coal miners, which we are not.”

Booth said the company operates an open-cast clay brick production facility adjacent to the ecologically sensitive Rietvlei Nature Reserve in Centurion.

Booth said the brickmaker has had a mining licence as required by law since the 1980s. “That is perfectly normal for any kind of surface mining operation, even if it is just clay. The mining licence is not an issue at all.

“Any kind of authorised mining activity also requires an environmental management plan to address issues such as dust control and water monitoring.

“Additional requirements are rehabilitation measures and a water licence,” he added.

Booth said the strict environmental and sustainability measures maintained by Corobrik at Rietvlei form part of its corporate, environmental, social and governance measures.

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“We have a couple of neighbours who are worried, and rightly so, but we assured them that we have the right measures in place.”

Booth said he did not understand the concern because there had been an active coal mine across the road for more than 10 years. He said removing the coal to get to the clay would not only be beneficial to reduce the fuel consumption in the factory, but also to prolong the factory’s lifespan.

Corobrik and Rietvlei
Corobrik Chief Executive Officer, Nick Booth. Picture: Nigel Sibanda/ The Citizen

“We have no long-term plan around the coal. It is a case of removing what is in our way so we can mine the clay to our best advantage in terms of running the brick factory.

“The coal is an obstacle at this point,” he said. Booth said a contractor would be appointed to mine the coal and ensure its removal and disposal.

“The other factor is that, while our coal estimates are only within seven years, we will be mining clay for the next 35 years.

“This means our Rietvlei factory will continue to be a viable clay brickmaking factory until at least 2050,” he said.

Neither Greenpeace nor NGO Friends of Rietvlei could be reached for comment.


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