Embattled mining company Mintails was placed into final liquidation by the Johannesburg high court this week, leaving behind a massive R460m environmental liability. Because there is only R28m in the company’s environmental rehabilitation fund, the department of mineral resources will now join a long line of Mintails creditors hoping to recover money to clean up the areas in which it operated. The department is responsible for compliance and enforcement of environmental law in the mining sector but has come in for intense criticism from environmental lobby groups for its failure to enforce it. The company, which was majority-owned by Australian-listed group Mintails Ltd, initially applied for business rescue — a provision under the Companies Act to rehabilitate financially distressed corporations — in October 2015. But with little prospect of this succeeding, it was placed into provisional liquidation in August this year. Mintails Ltd itself has since been liquidated. Final liquidat...

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