http://www.dispatch.co.za/article.aspx?id=197857 - Daily Dispatch article - 30 April 2008
ENVIRONMENTAL Affairs officials had “grave concerns” over the proposed mining at Xolobeni in Transkei – but only objected after deadlines for submissions had closed.
They said the mining would have a significant and permanent impact on several rivers and estuaries.
Their objections were contained in a letter written by Pamela Yako, the former director-general of the national Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
“The department has grave concerns with regard to the proposed mining developments in the area and object to it,” said Yako, in her December 20, 2007, letter addressed to the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME).
Yako’s letter was in response to a draft environmental impact assessment (EIA) and environmental management plan (EMP) on the proposed mining at the Wild Coast.
Australia’s Mineral’s Commodities, its South African subsidiary Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources, and BEE partner Xolobeni Empowerment Company have applied to mine dunes at Xolobeni for titanium.
Yako’s letter became public knowledge this week after social worker John Clarke, a board member of Sustaining the Wild Coast Association, obtained documents using the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
But DME spokesperson Bheki Khumalo said Yako’s “response came way too late after due processes”.
Khumalo said, however, his department’s officials would talk to Environmental Affairs about issues raised in the letter. “No doubt we will take them into account when we take a decision,” Khumalo said. “They are not new. They have been raised before by them.”
In the six-page letter, Yako said the application for mining should be lodged with her department as a matter of urgency and comply with certain requirements as the proposal would impact on several rivers and estuaries. 1C;From the draft EIA and draft EMP, it is clear that there is a high probability that these areas will be impacted on significantly and permanently.”
Yako said specialist studies, such as on the vegetation, still had to be undertaken. “From the documentation submitted, it is clear that the accepted and adopted planning and policy guidelines for the area have not been taken into consideration and several of the legislative requirements have not been met. No time frames or schedules are included to indicate whether they will be adhered to.”
According to Yako, the impact of the mining would not only affect the Wild Coast Sun but also the Mkambati Nature Reserve.
“This was not assessed in the study and is of concern to this department, Eastern Cape Parks, as well as the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs.”
Yako said Environmental Affairs and other authorities had identified several grey areas, and documents submitted needed to be redrafted.
“It is the further view of the department that the Department of Mineral and Energy should not take a decision on the mining rights before the EIA process for associated and related activities has been concluded and this department has issued a decision, whether positive or negative, on the application.”