Shabangu in mining furore over Xolobeni rights
Former Mineral Resources Minister, Susan Shabangu.
Australian miner Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources will be granted a licence to mine at South Africa’s West Coast after first having its licence revoked at Xolobeni three years ago.
The company, which is part of ASX-listed Mineral Commodities (MRC), will be granted a licence to mine at the site ‘within days’, reports The Sunday Times.
In 2011, then Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu told MRC that its mining right at Xolobeni had been revoked, and the self-same Shabangu, now the Minister of Women in the Presidency, announced the decision to allow Transworld to mine at Xolobeni.
Shabangu delivered news of the mining rights granted at Xolobeni when she addressed about 50 ANC councillors in the Alfred Nzo district of the Eastern Cape last week.
She said a new licence would be issued within days and that the people who had previously opposed the planned mine now supported it.
MRC said that the Xolobeni project would be ‘catalyst for social transformation of one of South Africa’s poorest communities’.
An elder in the community, Bhalasheni Mthwa, is quoted by the Sunday Times as saying, the development was welcome, but not if it means that land was destroyed in the process.
In August 2012, a group from the Xolobeni community called the Amadiba Crisis Committee filed an objection to a prospecting rights application by Transworld, which is part of MRC.
MRC said on its website that the area had a capacity to be a ‘world-class ilmenite asset’.
Transworld’s mining right application in 2007 was for the Xolobeni block that comprises 30% of the total area.
The licence was to mine sands containing some 139 million tonnes of titanium-bearing minerals, including ilmenite, zircon, leucoxene, and rutile.
Ilmenite is mined for titanium dioxide, a white powder used as a base pigment for paint, paper and plastics.