Australian Mining Company Wants To Mine South Africa’s Pristine Wild Coast

Mineral resources minister Susan Shabangu has revoked the licence of Australian-based mining company Transworld Energy & Mineral Resource to dune mine at the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape.  However the company has three months to resubmit documentation pertaining to environmental issues, before she makes a final decision.

Wild Coast

The area is home to the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany biodiversity hotspot, one of only 34 hotspots in the world.  The Wild Coast Sun and the Xolobeni community, represented by the Amadiba Crisis Committee, have strongly opposed the dune mining , saying it would destroy tourism and the community’s traditional way of life.  The community wants to develop small-scale livelihood projects based on ecotourism, agriculture and community-based business ventures.

Val Payn, chairperson of environmental NGO Sustaining the Wild Coast, said the “the people living there are small-scale subsistence farmers and the mine will have drastic social consequences”.

Shabangu based her decision on the mining company’s failure to fulfill certain environmental requirements, but said she was happy that the public participation requirement had been fulfilled and that the mining company had taken all reasonable steps to consult with the relevant parties.  But Payn strongly disagrees with that. “We don’t think the public consultation requirements were fulfilled.”

Nobuntu Mazeka, an organic farmer in Eastern Pondoland who also works for the Nelson Mandela Institute for Rural Education and Development, said it wasn’t fair that the mining company had been given the extended period to fulfill the environmental requirements. “Our hands are tied.  We don’t want mining in a sensitive area like this.  This is a place for ecotourism, not mining.”  Mazeka said that ecotourism investors had been scared off by the prospect of mining. “Once we have proof that the mining licence has been revoked, we can get funding and ecotourism can flourish again, as it did before mining came into play.”

Source: Farmer’s Weekly 24 June 2011 (Robyn Joubert)

Hopefully no mining will ever be allowed in this area.  Proponents often cite employment opportunities and social upliftment but mining, by its very nature, is a finite activity that always results in environmental degradation to varying degrees; is it worth it?

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