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Xolobeni Hearing - Canceled

By: Christy van der Merwe
10th February 2010

The hearings involving interested parties appealing a decision to grant Transworld Energy Minerals (TEM) a licence to mine heavy minerals from the dunes near Xolobeni on the Wild Coast, scheduled to take place this week, were cancelled.

The committee of four people, which was appointed by the Mining and Minerals Board to oversee the presentations from all parties involved, could not proceed because it had not received the necessary documentation from the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).

Committee chairperson Pathekile Holomisa told Mining Weekly Online that it had now received the documentation, which it would go through, and would decide in March whether or not hearings into the matter in fact needed to take place.

"Ultimately, our piece would be to advise the Minister, either to proceed with granting the license, or cancel or withdraw it, but that depends on our understanding of the issue. And we shall also decide whether there is a need to invite more oral presentations or not," he explained.

Grahamstown-based Legal Resources Centre (LRC) representative Sarah Sephton said that the cancellation of the hearings was "completely unsatisfactory', as the LRC had made the effort to submit its volumes of documentation on time to the DMR.

She added that the LRC, as well as representatives from the mining company TEM, and the company's black economic-empowerment partner, Xolco, travelled to the KwaZulu-Natal DMR offices for the scheduled hearings "at great cost", only to be told that hearings were not going to take place.

The LRC represented the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC), which was appealing the mining right, which the former Minerals and Energy Minister, Buyelwa Sonjica, granted in August 2008.

The LRC stated that one of the grounds for the appeal was that the mining right was granted to the Australia-based mining junior without sufficient and reasonable consultation with the Xolobeni community as an interested and affected party.

On September 28, 2009, the LRC submitted two expert reports to the Minister in support of the appeal to set aside the mining right. One of the reports provided that the heavy minerals mining operations planned by TEM had been discontinued in other jurisdictions, such as Australia and New Zealand.

Resolution on whether or not the licence to mine for titanium-bearing minerals would, in fact, be granted was expected by June 2009, however, little clarity on the matter had emerged.
Edited by: Mariaan Webb


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