DME grants right to Australian MRC to strip mine at Xolobeni

The Democratic Alliance says it is disappointed by the decision of the Department of Minerals and Energy Affairs to grant a mining right to Mineral Resource Commodities (MRC) to mine a portion of the Xolobeni Mineral Sands Project.

"The site of this mining right is along the Wild Coast, one of the world's most important biodiversity hotspots," said Gareth Morgan, the party's environment spokesperson, on Tuesday

Morgan said while it was true the area in which the right to mining had been granted was one of the most impoverished places in South Africa, at best, only a few hundred jobs will be created from the mining. He said the potential to create new jobs in the eco-tourism sector -- which, along an unspoiled coastline would have far exceeded the opportunities created by mining -- might now be diminished.

Morgan said he feared that additional rights could be granted in the near future to increase the area that was to be mined.

"It is therefore important that the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism makes use of provisions under the Integrated Coastal Management Bill to prohibit the granting of any more rights along this area of coastline," Morgan said.

"The Coastal Bill is due to be passed by the NCOP [National Council of Provinces] in the next month, which will conclude its passage through Parliament."

He also said it was regrettable that the department bungled its opportunity to participate in the process surrounding this particular mining application. The department failed to submit its objections in
time, he said.

"DEAT will need to improve its performance if it wishes to protect the remaining areas of the Wild Coast under prospecting rights," Morgan said.

- I-Net Bridge

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