SA Minister urged to reconsider permitting approval for Wild Coast mine

By: Christy van der Merwe
Published on 5th September 2008

A notice of appeal has been filed with the Minister of Minerals and Energy to suspend and appeal a decision to award a mining right to ASX-listed Mineral Commodities (MRC), to mine for titanium-bearing minerals at the Xolobeni project area, along a portion of South Africa’s Wild Coast.

The Notice of Appeal was filed by the Grahamstown office of the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), on behalf of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC), a group of local residents in opposition to mining.

The Minister of Minerals and Energy Buyelwa Sonjica had until October 1, 2008, to respond and, if this did not happen, the LRC, if instructed by the ACC, would proceed to the High Court to try and get the mining licence set aside.

The mining right was granted by the Department of Minerals and Energy in early August. The Environmental Management Plan was expected to be signed on October 31, when the licence would become official.

The basis of appeal was that mining right was granted without sufficient and reasonable notice to, consultation with, or invitation for, comments from the community, as an interested and affected party, which was unlawful.

Although MRC has insisted that community consultations did take place, a large number of community members directly affected by the mining said that they were not properly consulted.

“The traditional leadership structures represented by the King and Queen and the Chief, or Nkosi, of the AmaDiba administrative area Lunga Baleni, of the Amopondo, have been deliberately sidelined in the consultation process as they are opposed to the mining in this area,” said the LRC.

The appeal was also based on the grounds that the Xolobeni area was part of the Pondoland marine protected area. Under the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act 57 of 2003, commercial mining cannot take place at all on any marine protected area.

It was also argued that the AmaDiba community has a right to legally secure tenure of their communal land under the Constitution and the Communal Land Rights Act 11 of 2004. Therefore, mining could only take place once a mining company has acquired a community resolution, which is issued by the Department of Land Affairs and the traditional authorities of the community, consenting to the mining and setting out the compensation to be paid to the community. Such a resolution was not obtained, said the LRC.

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