DMR releases Xolobeni report

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) has released the ‘Holomisa Report’, which advises Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu on the Xolobeni mining right appeal.

The mining right was awarded to Transworld Energy and Minerals (TEM) in 2008, for the Kwanyana block of mineral sands on the Wild Coast.

Although dated March 2010, the report was only released on January 31. The DMR said that the delay in taking a decision on the report was owing to “administrative processes and pressures within the department”.

The report outlined a number of areas of concern and made a final recommendation that an interdepartmental committee, including the departments of Environmental Affairs, Water Affairs, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, and Rural Development and Land Reform, should weigh up matters and direct the way forward.

The report was drawn up by a committee formed to investigate the issue, headed by Phatekile Holomisa, which reviewed documentation received from affected parties.

The DMR has indicated that further hearings into the matter would take place at the DMR’s Durban regional office from February 16 to February 18.

The major concern highlighted in the Holomisa report was that that TEM had applied for the right to mine a number of “blocks” of titanium-mineral bearing sands, however it was only granted the right to mine one of these, the largest, called the Kwanyana block.

It was questioned whether or not the project was still feasible since only one block could be mined, and this would likely mean that the associated processing facility (which would have created many of the jobs on the operation), would no longer be built in the area.

Thus the report questioned why a mining right could be awarded for one block, when no feasibility study had been conducted to see if this was viable.

It was also understood that a letter, with a list of requirements, was sent to TEM in July 2008, by the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act Regional Manager, however it appeared that the right was granted in December 2008, without any, or all, of the issues raised in the letter having been attended to. This included a number of environmental impacts.

The Holomisa task team also noted that the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) was strongly opposed to mining in the area, and was “seriously concerned that the issues raised by the DEA were not addressed sufficiently or at all”.

A comparative assessment of the identified land use alternatives, such as ecotourism in the area, should also have been included in the Record of Decision, but the Holomisa report said that no evidence of such evaluation was found.

The report also stated that while “TEM has submitted ‘prima facie’ proof of consultation as is required in regulation, the task team, is however, concerned that there is no conclusive evidence that the appropriate Traditional Authorities were the ones that were consulted”.

This lack of consultation was the grounds for the appeal of the mining licence, which was submitted by the Amadiba Crisis Committee in early 2009.

“The question is, on what basis was the mining right granted without an approved environmental impact assessment and an approved environmental management programme?” the Holomisa report asked.

By: Christy van der Merwe
11th February 2011

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