scorched earth


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By ANDREW STONE and BONGANI FUZILE on March 22, 2014 (Daily Dispatch)

HIGHLY lucrative but illegal sand mining, on what was arguably one of the country’s most pristine coastlines, is behind the construction of government schools, RDP houses and private homes in the Eastern Cape.

A two-month long investigation has revealed local communities, building supply stores, local businessmen and even construction companies are involved in illegal sand mining operations along the Wild Coast.Click for full screen view

Xolobeni mining update

Latest news:

On Wednesday, 2012-08-08 the Amadiba Crisis Committee filed an Objection against the prospecting right application made by Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources SA:

The objection was filed jointly by the ACC and Sun International, which operates the Wild Coast Sun resort adjacent to the proposed mining area.

* TEM is ineligible for a new grant of prospecting rights because their application is redundant: they have already prospected the site, and are therefore merely attempting to hoard the rights. This transparent ploy creates more uncertainty and directly impedes development of the tourism potential in and through the area;

* Prospecting and mining activities cannot take place in the Xolobeni region at all because it is within an already designated Marine Protected Area (MPA). The tiny Pondoland Centre of Endemism (PCE), where the mining is proposed, is the second most florastically abundant region in Southern Africa, and one of only 26 such species rich places on earth;

* Mining the area will lead to unacceptable environmental and social harm. The objection clearly states the inevitable outcome of the limited short-term capital gain operations versus the long-term (infinite) sustainability of eco-tourism: Mining will irreversibly degrade the ecology, sense of place, and appeal of the area.

* The community will be displaced. The unacceptable outcomes of strip-mining include, inter-alia:

1. Forced eviction from their ancestral lands:
2. Loss of access to farmland for both crops and livestock, leading to subsequent loss of income, means of subsistence, and way of life;
3. Decreased viability of subsistence agriculture and fishing due to dust fallout;
4. Risk to irrigation from declining ground water sources;
5. Relocation/destruction of ancestral graves;
6. Destruction of culturally important archaeological sites;
7. Loss of current tourism and potential eco-tourism opportunities in the area, as Kwanyana camp, which is pivotal for accessing trails, will not be able to be used by tourists for lifetime of the mine; and
8. Irreversible damage to residents' sense of place, which is closely associated with unspoiled character and traditional use of the land.

9. Basically, irreversible degradation to the environment for a short term gain of $6 billion.

Please sign our petition at for the Wild Coast to be declared a "no-go" area for mining once and for all.

N2 Toll road decision

Minister of Water & Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, has approved the controversial N2 tollroad through the environmentally sensitive Pondoland Centre of Endemism.

In a 21 page fax sent out to IAPs she dismissed all 49 appeals lodged in objection to the new road. What is clear is that the minister is being a "loyal cadre" and carrying out the wishes of the ANC, while betraying her office and responsibilities to the environment.

Download the Fax here: 184635892.pdf

26 of the appeals were dismissed out of hand due to the fact that they address socio-economic impacts of the tolling; which was the responsibility of the dept of transport and the SANRAL Act.

Concerns about ribbon, or linear development were not possible to consider because it would be based on only "potential future developments" and were dismissed.

A major concern addressed by numerous appeals was SANRAL's bias towards the new 75km section of road between Lusikisiki and Mzamba and against the upgrading of the existing R61. The "Terms of Reference for Environmental Consultant N2 Wild Coast Toll Road Project" (TOR) included a requirement that there must be "due consideration of alternative options and a strong motivation for excluding the R61 and current N2 as alternative options".

Outrage over N2 approval

Opponents of the N2 toll road that will snake through the Wild Coast are ready to take their battle to the highest court following the controversial road's approval by Environment Minister Edna Molewa this week.

The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has fought tooth and nail to build the road from Durban to East London for the past 10 years but has faced fierce opposition from environmentalists, the local community and civil society.

Sanral argues that the Wild Coast community is one of the poorest in the country and would be well served by the development of a road system to encourage tourism and open up the region to economic opportunities.

"We are shocked by the decision, but not really surprised," said Cormac Cullinan, lawyer for the local community opposing the road. "Considering the political support this project had, it was just a matter of time before the road was approved."

Two years ago, before appeals were lodged against the road, Co-operative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka told the SABC: "The N2 road is going ahead. We will make sure that this thing goes ahead."

DMR releases Xolobeni report

JOHANNESBURG ( – 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”.

Wild Coast plans show preference for mining

Central planning 1-2-3: mining, road, power: Click on the map for full size view (1.5Mb)Central planning 1-2-3: mining, road, power: Click on the map for full size view (1.5Mb)

February 8, 2011
By Ingi Salgado

For some time, the state has withheld two pieces of information with significance for mining along the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. Under much pressure, the government has now released both.

Both documents are shocking, but taken together, they paint a cynical picture of a potentially concerted effort to engineer an economically viable dispensation for mining on the Wild Coast Power to the mining!: running parallel to the planned N2 routePower to the mining!: running parallel to the planned N2 routewith scant regard for communities and environment.

The first document came in the form of the terms of reference issued by roads agency Sanral to an environmental consultancy for the proposed N2 toll highway, which hugs the coastal sites that prospective miners are eyeing. The terms of reference specifically instruct the consultant to provide “a strong motivation for excluding the R61 and current N2 as options”.

Imagine the outrage if the assessment for a fictional new highway between Durban and Johannesburg was not compared with the impact of upgrading the N3.

That we even have sight of these terms of reference is thanks to Cullinan & Associates, which applied under the Promotion of Access to Information Act. It acts for the Sigidi, Baleni and Mdatya communities, the Khimbili Property Association and residents in the amaDiba tribal authority.

The law firm first successfully opposed environmental authorisation for the proposed N2 highway in 2004, sending Sanral back to the drawing board.

Senior director Cormac Cullinan says: “It’s indisputable that if the new road doesn’t go ahead, it will have a major impact on the financial viability of mines... That’s a strong reason why they didn’t want to consider the existing route.”

The toll road appeal is now with the Department of Environmental Affairs. Cullinans alleges Sanral appears to have intended to mislead the minister because the agency initially denied its consultant had been specifically excluded from considering certain alternatives.

The second document to come to light is the nearly year-old report by Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA chief Patekile Holomisa, who led a task team assessing the award of a 2008 mining right to Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources to mine titanium on the Kwanyana block of Xolobeni on the Wild Coast.

The Department of Mineral Resources finally made Holomisa’s report public last week, and it is rather instructive. It points out that Transworld indicated a feasibility study would be carried out “as soon as the mining right is formally granted” – whereas the law requires proof that the mineral can be mined optimally. The report asks whether Transworld was allowed to dictate the processing of the application.

It also points out the mining right was granted without an environmental impact assessment, environmental management plan or further attention given to any of the department’s own stated requirements.

There was no study of the benefits of mining versus ecotourism and issues raised by the Department of Environmental Affairs were not addressed. The Department of Mineral Resources opted to reconvene the task team, which will hold hearings in Durban this month.

There is a third leg to the saga, a legal wrangle over the Commission for Traditional Leadership’s decision to dislodge amaPondo King Mpondombini Sigcau from the throne. Webber Wentzel says “a gross injustice to (our) clients appears to have been done, which cannot go unchallenged”.

Is it a coincidence that the deposed royals oppose both the Xolobeni mining and the N2 toll road?

More hearings on Xolobeni mine scheduled for Feb

By: Christy van der Merwe

26th January 2011

JOHANNESBURG ( – A second task team would be established to hear oral presentations by parties affected by the proposed heavy minerals mine in Xolobeni, which is located on the South African Wild Coast.

The hearings would be held at the Department of Mineral Resources’ (DMR’s) Durban regional office from February 16 to February 18.

The task team would then make recommendations to Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, on whether or not to uphold the granting of the licence to mine the Kwanyana block of mineral-rich sands near Xolobeni, or to rescind the licence – as per the appeal from certain community members.

Australia-based Mineral Resource Commodities, through its South African subsidiary Transworld Energy & Minerals, was granted a licence to mine for titanium-bearing minerals on a portion of the dunes, in December 2008.

The Kwanyana block contains some 139-million tons of heavy titanium-producing minerals, including ilmenite, zircon, leucoxene, and rutile. Of the four blocks making up the Xolobeni project area, the Kwanyana block had the largest measured resource.

The Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) then appealed the awarding of the licence in early 2009, stating that the community was not properly consulted.

In February 2010, the Minerals and Mining Development board, which advises the Minister of Mineral Resources, appointed a committee headed by Phatekile Holomisa, which received documentation from affected parties, and compiled a report, which it submitted to the Minister.

No further information was given about the report, affected parties requested sight of it but have never seen it.

The DMR, in January, stated that the Holomisa report was merely an interim report, which did not contain any firm recommendations on the merit or demerit of the appeals.

It was described as an “interim measure that addressed procedure rather than substance”, and recommended that other stakeholders be afforded the opportunity to provide input to a panel to finalise the appeal.

“Our clients are extremely concerned that it has taken almost a year from the time the Holomisa task team made its recommendations to the Minister for her to come to a decision, and then only to decide to hold further hearings. The panel that is to hear the matter has still not been constituted and the Minister appears not to have applied her mind to the appeal at all,” said Legal Resources Centre (LRC) representative Sarah Sephton.

The Grahamstown-based LRC is representing the ACC.

The DMR was currently in the process of inviting nominations for new panel members, and the panel would be headed by the DMR legal services director, as the chairperson.

The panel would consist of: an environmental expert nominated by the DMR, a nominated official from the DMR Mineral Regulation branch, an environmental expert nominated by the Department of Environmental Affairs, a representative nominated by the Department of Land Affairs, a representative nominated by the Provincial Department of Economic Affairs, Eastern Cape, a representative nominated by the OR Tambo district municipality, and a representative nominated by the Bizana municipality.

MRC South Africa GM John Barnes confirmed that the company had been informed of the new hearings through a letter from the DMR, and also that the company had not been informed of any recommendations put forward in the first report.

Barnes added that while the company awaited the DMR decision on the granting of the Xolobeni licence, it was moving ahead with its Tormin mineral sands project on the west coast of South Africa.

Sephton stated that the delays were prejudicial to the LRC’s clients.

“In the meantime, our clients are still unable to make any use of the land in question. Prior to the grant of the prospecting licence, an important eco-tourism project was under way in the Xolobeni area. Since then, however, all efforts to further this project have been unsuccessful and our clients have suffered important financial losses as a result,” she explained.

She added that the harmony within the community has also suffered as conflicts have emerged between the proponents of the mining initiative and those who favour the eco-tourism plan as a means to develop the region.

“There can be no healing until a final decision is made. These lengthy and unexplained delays have marked this entire process and are quite frankly ludicrous,” Sephton exclaimed.

Posted on January 31st, 2011

Latest developments in the Wild Coast Mining and N2 Toll rd saga

The Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) and Legal Resource Centre (LRC) demands decision from the department “by no later than 28 September 2010”, failing which the matter will be taken to High Court.

Social worker John Clarke has provided the following summary of developments, and opinion.

Xolobeni Mining 
We are still waiting for DG of Mineral Resources, Sandile Nogcina, to announce the outcome of the appeal by the Amadiba Crisis Committee.  It has been over two years since the appeal was lodged.

ANC outrage at toll roads

ANC outrage at toll roads
2 June 2010
By Arthi Sanpath and Bheki Mbanjwa

Opposition to toll roads in the Durban area is building to tsunami proportions as the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal urged motorists to avoid the new King Shaka International Airport toll.

It also said it was flabbergasted at the tolling decisions, including the proposed booths on the N2 just south of Durban. In its most damning criticism yet of the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral), ANC provincial secretary, Sihle Zikalala, said people should use the alternative route (R102) to and from the airport.

The party's provincial executive committee this week also said the idea of erecting a toll road near Amanzimtoti was ill-conceived, one that would impact negatively on commuters.

It criticised Sanral for not consulting stakeholders such as the eThekwini Municipality and the KwaZulu-Natal government.

"The ANC is flabbergasted by Sanral's approach of constructing tollgates without even consulting the people who are affected by such tollgates. The ANC in KZN will continue to engage the national Minister of Transport, S'bu Ndebele, with a view to stopping the construction of the proposed tollgate," Zikalala said.

Petition submission

"The only real and sustainable industry that can uplift and feed the communities in the areas of Pondoland and Transkei, is Tourism. All the natural assets are there to be managed correctly. The surest and quickest way to destroy a world renowned wilderness area is to cut a highway through its heart." -Fred Orban

For those interested, the attached N2_petition-email.pdf was submitted and officially accepted by the department yesterday. (This "public" version attached herewith has had the email addresses stripped out for obvious reasons.)

As at 19 May 2010 - 9:00AM - 1711 people had signed the Petition at


CASABio (Collaborative Archive of South African Biodiversity) is an NGO dedicated to the conservation of the earth's species.

Their bottom line is: get involved!!!
It's one way you CAN help protect our natural heritage.

CASABIO have submitted the following protest posters against the destruction of our Pondoland Center of Endemism:

Sign the Petition at before the close of business on Tuesday 18 May 2010!


Watch 50/50 on Monday 10 May, SABC2 at 19:30: interview with Bishop Geoff Davies about the N2 toll road.Watch 50/50 on Monday 10 May, SABC2 at 19:30: interview with Bishop Geoff Davies about the N2 toll road.Bishop Geoff Davies - 6 May 2010

The Wild Coast continues to be under threat from both the application to undertake sand dune mining and the N2 toll highway. The record of decision (ROD) for the N2 toll road was released on 19 April. It is stated that objections need to be made before 19th May. We are asking for an extension to this deadline but we are also told that DEAT is requiring a notice of intention to appeal. We attach this notice. We write now to ask that if you are registered as an Interested and Affected Party (I&AP) and wish to appeal, that you send in this form.

Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) will shortly issue a brief outline regarding our concerns. We believe it best if comments come from a denomination or a congregation or a faith community, though an individual may also object. If you are not registered as an I&AP but wish to object, please do it through SAFCEI. We will include your appeal with ours.

Petition against the destruction of the Pondoland Center of Endemism

Please sign the petition online here:

Development, for the people of Pondoland, does not depend solely on the N2 toll road passing through the greenfields of this fragile biosphere.

However the continued existence of the PCE does, without a doubt, depend on it not doing so.

Please sign this petition and forward it to everyone you can.

Read more here:

Thank you.

One step nearer for N2 Wild Coast road

Taralyn Bro The Weekend Post

THE N2 Wild Coast Toll Road has moved one step closer to becoming a reality after the government this week gave its construction a tentative thumbs-up.

The issuing on Monday of a record of decision by the Department of Environmental Affairs authorising construction of the road is the latest in a long line of action – or inaction – around the mega-billion-rand project. Objectors now have less than a month to say why they believe construction should not go ahead. The authorisation has been granted as long as environmental concerns raised in the final environmental impact assessment report – released in December – are heeded.

More than 7800 submissions from the public were included in the report, which was started afresh in 2007 by CCA Environmental (Pty) Ltd after the original EIA was shelved in 2004.

If approved, the project will extend over roughly 560km between the N2 Gonubie interchange and the N2 Isipingo interchange (south of Durban).

Twenty-five new tolls will be built, mostly in KwaZulu-Natal.

The new route will be about 75km shorter than the existing N2 via Kokstad. Building cost was estimated at R6.4-billion in 2007.

N2 Toll Road: Government Oblivious to Issues

PRESS RELEASE 12 -04 -2010


A recent parliamentary response to questions about the N2 Toll Road, posed to the Minister of Transport, shows the government has a deeply flawed understanding of the broader issues surrounding the N2 Toll road debacle. The Minister’s response suggests a government that is stuck in an inflexible time warp, basing its decisions on outdated, vastly flawed and unsustainable development projects that were conceived of in the early 90's, under scenarios vastly different from the situation that prevails today.

Benefits of the N2 toll road?






Mr G R Morgan (DA) asked the Minister of Transport:

(1) Whether the proposed development of the N2 Wild Coast Toll highway is being done in conjunction with a broader spatial planning process for the areas that will be impacted by the road; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;

(2) (a) how will the proposal for the new road benefit the broader development objectives of the area and (b) what are the negative effects of the proposed road in respect of the broader development objectives of the area?

N2 Toll Road debate reignited!

N2 Toll: Proposed route (Mostly existing road)N2 Toll: Proposed route (Mostly existing road)

THE decade-long N2 Wild Coast Tollroad debate was re-ignited this week with the release of a new – and final – environmental impact assessment.

Over 7800 submissions from the public were included in the report, which started afresh in 2007 by CCA Environmental (Pty) Ltd after an original EIA was shelved in 2004 when it was found that the “independent” environmental consultants had financial links with companies that hoped to build the road.

Revoke mining right

By John GI Clark

Stephan Hofstatter’s report on the shenanigans surrounding the Wild Coast mining saga refers (Transkei dead’s nod to dune deal, March 5). So it is at the discretion of the minister whether or not to revoke a mining right, even when there is clear evidence of a fraud having been perpetrated to secure a mining right by the holders thereof.

The latest evidence of fraudulently obtained lists of people, many of whom are long deceased, on “certificates” stating their free and informed consent for the Xolobeni Mining venture on the Wild Coast, provides Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu with a more than adequate basis to revoke the mining right immediately.

Transkei Dead's Nod to Dune Deal

By Stephan Hofstatter

Johannesburg — EVIDENCE of misrepresentation has emerged in papers submitted in an application that led to a decision by the Department of Mineral Resources to allow titanium mining on the environmentally sensitive Wild Coast.

If proved, the disclosures could jeopardise plans by Australian company Mineral Commodities (MRC) and its empowerment partner, Xolco, to extract heavy metals worth an estimated R11bn from the coastal dunes of the Transkei.

Toll road opposed by Mkhize

By Tony Carnie

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize has re-iterated his opposition to the proposed N2 Wild Coast toll road, saying more tollgates in the Durban area will cause further financial hardship for commuters and slow down economic growth.

Reacting to the news that the proposed N2 toll had been given another green light after an environmental impact assessment (EIA) process, Mkhize said the KZN Provincial government had always been opposed to the proposed Wild Coast toll road, especially the proposed toll gate at Isipingo.

The Premier noted that there was general agreement in the legislature that all political parties should speak with one voice in opposing this tollgate and he promised to make an official announcement later this week on how the legislature would respond to the latest EIA recommendation.

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