Category: East Cape and Wild Coast of South Africa

Sun Shines On Qunu Clinic, Eastern Cape

Sunwater for Life, a SESSA initiative, has provided two solar water heating systems to Qunu Clinic in the Eastern Cape to help free up the funds it needs to better serve the 800 to 1 000 people who require treatment every month.

SESSA, the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa, launched the Sunwater for Life programme to give organisations and industry donors the opportunity to improve the quality of life for those without access to hot running water by providing for the installation of solar water heating systems.

The installation at the Qunu Clinic was made possible by Absa Insurance Company (AIC). Health facilities need a reliable supply of hot water which is particularly necessitated by hygiene considerations. To achieve this, a constant and reliable supply of energy is needed. Unfortunately, like many rural areas across South Africa, Qunu experiences a scarcity of energy. Currently, the clinic tries to meet its energy needs, including the supply of hot water, with electricity vouchers.

“The opportunity to uplift and contribute positively to the well-being of our communities is reflective of the Absa values and we are pleased that we could assist in improving the health care of the community in Qunu. The installation of solar heating systems at Qunu clinic has two basic benefits. It will greatly improve the quality of care for the people in Qunu while ensuring that our environment is preserved,” said Edwyn O’Neill, Managing Executive at Absa Insurance Company.

Providing more detail about the Sunwater for Life programme, SESSA Ambassador, Irvan Damon, said it aims to promote growth in the green sector and help create green collar jobs; showcase the reliability and independence of the green technology; ; contribute to economic stability though an improved energy mix; assist with the upliftment of previously disadvantaged communities, and help avoid local environmental degradation.

“We appreciate Absa’s involvement with Sunwater for Life, and look forward to seeing the fruits of their investment in Qunu,” Damon said.

Issued by
C3 Communications:     
Cathy van Zyl +27 21 852 7198, +27 82 458 2194
Petra Peacock +27 11 794 4665, +27 83 303 1778

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The Eastern Cape Environmental Network

A coalition of interest groups, including:

The Zwartkops Trust, Citrus Farmers, Game Farmers, Alcan-Coega Protesters, Nimble, Zero Waste Agriculture, Timberwatch, Sustain the Wild Coast, Anti-Nuclear Lobby and Earthlife Africa
“Protecting our diversity for a sustainable future”

The Eastern Cape is rich in diversity – from ethnic and tribal groups to indigenous plant and animal life. Environmental and other interest groups in the Eastern Cape want to ensure that this diversity is protected for a sustainable future.

We would like to work with all organizations to further the best interests of the people and the region as a whole.

We are opposed to secret deals with foreign multi-nationals and strongly urge the release of the Pillay investigation into corruption in the Eastern Cape before any further public money is spent on mega-projects.

We urge governmental transparency and cooperation so that people can participate in making decisions that will impact on their and future generations.

1. NUCLEAR ENERGY
The government’s nuclear programme has targeted coastal areas including Port Elizabeth’s Coega zone, Thyspunt (Cape St Francis) and Oyster Bay and involves huge expense on the part of the taxpayer (R400 billion) resulting in increased electricity tariffs that many cannot afford. There are unresolved waste issues, concerns about emergency procedures and extreme concerns about the toxic, enduring nature of radioactive waste.

2. COEGA
We are opposed to Eskom’s secret deal with Alcan regarding electricity supplies and believe that this will cause local people to suffer a lack of basic resources, including water. Local people should not be forced to subsidize electricity and water needs of a foreign industry. Many in the East Cape still do not have access to clean water and electricity – this should be a priority. The smelter Alcan wants to build at Coega near Port Elizabeth will severely compromise the health of the people of nearby Motherwell and Port Elizabeth, causing an escalation in medical expenses and problems for tourism and farming industries.

3. GM FOODS AND FARMING
Genetically Modified seeds, such as those marketed by foreign multi-national Monsanto, will create a dependency on foreign “designer” seeds and pesticides that will impoverish people. We do not believe that an organization such as Monsanto that has already been involved in a court case in South Africa will be of any benefit to local people and will instead prejudice farming activities in the region.

Citrus and dairy farming in the region need support and organic farming must be encouraged with support structures that provide hands-on workshops and information dissemination involving all areas of problem-solving for farmers in the region. Farmers must be protected from violent crimes if there is to be food security in South Africa.

4. MINING THE WILD COAST
We believe that dune mining at Xolobeni along the Wild Coast over an area covering five estuaries and a proposed smelter would be highly prejudicial to the interests of local people and would only benefit the Australian mining company MRC Mining. This development would have a negative impact on the Mpondo people, indigenous plants and eco-tourism ventures.

New plants and their value to the world are still being discovered. The area is rich in an archaeological heritage that includes the Red Desert. This should not be sacrificed for foreign profit, but instead used as an educational tool to benefit local people, as has happened with the Cape Floral Kingdom. We would like to see an Eastern Cape Floral Kingdom include the Wild Coast region as “the jewel in the crown” of South Africa, rather than an area degraded by mine dumps and smelter fumes.

Local community needs must be met by conferring with communities involved to provide upgrading of existing roads and infrastructure, as opposed to expensive toll road proposals that local residents could not afford, would divide their land with fences and destroy precious coastal fauna and flora. Needs of isolated communities should be provided in the form of clinics for primary health care, schools, electricity supplies, etc. There is a need for a spatial development framework for the Wild Coast.

5. FORESTRY VERSUS PLANTATIONS
Natural forests must be preserved to protect the biodiversity of the region and the benefits this offers the local people. Local people should not be forcibly removed from communal land in order to make way for plantations that will devastate large scale areas of the Eastern Cape.

6. TOURISM
Eco-tourism is one of our primary advantages of this region – as the Eastern Cape has a pristine coastline that continues up into the Wild Coast and this must be preserved so that local people can benefit from the profits of a healthy environment.
Leaders from local communities should be provided with training/educational programmes about all aspects of indigenous plants (uses, identification etc) so that they can be paid as “tour guides” in Mpondo Park and botanical gardens in the EC for the public. Growth areas as a result of this would include local crafts, tourism accommodation, hikes, trails, hosting competitions (both local and international such as marathons, biking, kayaking, etc) school camps and educational programmes, business conference facilities etc.
The medicinal qualities of indigenous plants must be researched with any bio-prospecting profits to include local communities and operating under licensing procedures.

7. SCHOOLS
Schools in the Eastern Cape need to be assured that primary needs for basic resources such as electricity and clean, drinkable water will be guaranteed by government.
Government and NGOs must support school gardening programmes especially in disadvantaged areas of the EC where families suffering HIV/Aids need the extra nutrition provided by home gardens. There are programmes in some schools but these should be expanded and encouraged with publicity, competitions and awards and include as many areas as possible. This is a region with a high incidence of HIV/Aids and the health of the people must be supported by a health environment not compromised by it which would lead to escalating medical costs.
Focus on at-risk/under-privileged children in East Cape with sporting programmes encouraging activities like soccer, basketball, karate and boxing with facilities, coaches, equipment and training. This would provide motivation, encouragement and mentoring for disadvantaged children – especially those with single parent families or Aids-orphans without adult guidance. Existing programmes should be acknowledged and supported with funding, publicity, awards etc.
Government should increase budgetary allocations to schools to include psychologist/counsellor teams for children suffering the effects of violent crimes, abuse, rape, HIV/Aids etc.

8. CITY PLANNING/DEVELOMENT
Improvement of city planning should include prescribed “greenbelt” and “garden” areas for public use and to maintain the natural beauty of the region and prevent over-development with restrictions on size and height of buildings close to the coast. As a case in point – not to build shops/mall/hotel over the Marina Glen Gardens in East London, but instead to develop a botannical garden for public recreation, tourism and educational purposes – similar to the function and beauty of Kirstenbosch in Cape Town. This would be a unique asset rather than leading to generic urbanization.

Further information on these issues can be found at the following websites:
www.environment.co.za (National environmental forum)
chat@environment.co.za (Discussion forum)
www.alcant.co.za (Alcan protesters, PE)
www.swc.org.za (Sustain the Wild Coast)
www.plantnet.org.za (Timberwatch)
www.twig.org.za (Zero Waste Agriculture)
www.earthlife-ct.org.za (All environmental issues)
www.nimblesa.org (Nelson Mandela Metropole environmental group)
Eastern Cape Environmental Network

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SAVE SOUTH AFRICA’S COASTLINE

27 October 2005

Dear Global Response,

RE: SAVE SOUTH AFRICA’S COASTLINE

South Africa’s coastline is under threat from dune mining industry and smelting projects. This means that the potential for the country to develop its eco-tourism industry will be seriously jeopardized. From Richards Bay, to Xolobeni along the Wild Coast, Wavecrest, East London, Port Elizabeth (Coega) and Tormin Sands eco-systems under threat include the following:

East London
In East London, nature reserves have been declared protected sites in Gonubie, Nahoon Point and Nahoon Estuary. Nahoon Point is a valuable prehistoric site – famous for the 200 000-year-old footprints that were discovered in the 1960s – and the Dassie Trail is a sanctuary for these small mammals and birds. Plans include educational workshops, eco-trails and displays of fauna and flora. The project would also help eliminate alien vegetation and benefit indigenous plants, trees, grass and flowers. The reserve also includes an area where mangrove trees grow on the edges of the Nahoon dam. The Nahoon Estuary Nature Reserve is home to many dassies. Small buck and porcupine used to live in the reserve but have vanished – poached by hunters. The municipality is planning to return the two reserves to their former state.

East London has been targeted as one of two locations for a smelter required to convert heavy minerals mined in Pondoland into titanium and ilmenite. If Australian mining company, Minerals Commodities Limited (MRC) is granted mining rights later this year, the smelter will be located either in Coega, 680km away from the Xolobeni Mineral Sands Project, or here, 410km away. The Buffalo City municipality does not have a “clean air” policy in place to regulate the air pollution the smelter is expected to produce.

“If the smelter were to come here, we would put in policies to regulate the level of pollution to protect the people,” said Buffalo City spokesperson Darby Gounden.

The city is governed by national acts pertaining to air pollution, but Gounden said the municipality was looking at implementing a municipal bylaw tailoring the national policy to local conditions.

A Special Assignment programme on SABC3 television showed that workers in the steel industry have been poisoned on the job. Workers claimed they were poisoned by manganese dust at the Samancor Manganese plant in Meyerton, Gauteng. Another 300 former workers from Sebokeng were also demanding compensation from the company, saying they were dying from manganese-related diseases.

Thirty-three year old Stefanus Glaus became ill in October last year after working at the plant for seven years. Medical reports confirm that he suffered permanent brain damage because of exposure to manganese dust. Peet Kaalsen worked for nine months as a fitter at the plant before contracting the disease. A labour lawyer said: “In South Africa we have literally thousands of ex-mine and steel workers who are suffering from chronic illness. The overwhelming number of cases are never identified and never come into the official accident statistics.”

Despite this, the Wild Life and Environmental Society for South Africa (WESSA) representative in East London was asked to participate in the Environmental Impact Assessment for the MRC smelter.

The Eastern Cape Government have also given IHM Heavy Minerals permission to examine the feasibility of mining heavy minerals in the Cetane-Wavecrest area of the Wild Coast that may affect the estuary and indigenous forests in the area. The Nxaxo estuary and Sandy Point indigenous forests in the vicinity of the Wavecrest Hotel have been identified as protected areas. This would effectively reduce potentially mineable deposits of heavy minerals known to exist in the area by about 30 per cent.

Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Rejoice Mabudafhasi launched the East London Wio-Lab programme, designed to determine the extent of pollution of coastal waters due to sewage, industrial effluent and river run-off. She says East London has a long-standing problem of sewage and other toxic effluent being deposited in the sea regularly and “this problem cannot be left to persist unabated”.

Port Elizabeth
In Port Elizabeth, environmentalists and scientists protested against the Coega Industrial Zone Development for four years, explaining that people in the area could only expect mortality rates from cancers to increase.

Yet the government and the Coega Development Corporation have welcomed as “highly positive” an announcement by Alcan Incorporated that it has decided to conduct a new feasibility study for the construction of a proposed multi-billion rand aluminium smelter at Coega. The new study was to be completed by the second quarter of 2005 and construction would begin at the end of 2005.

Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa said he was pleased with the progress being made on the project and Eastern Cape Economic Affairs MEC Andre de Wet also welcomed the announcement as “good news”.

The Coega Smelter Project would produce up to 660 kilotons of aluminium each year. Putting together the energy infrastructure – with a contract worth R180-million – is Alstom SA. The process has involved major adjustment on the Coega main switching sub-station that will supply power to the IDZ directly from Eskom.

Lionel October, deputy director general at the department of trade and industry in South Africa stated that: “South Africa has a competitive advantage of cheap, abundant and uninterrupted electricity”.

Yet many rural areas have no access to electricity. Of all South Africa’s metropolitan centres, the city of Port Elizabeth has the highest recorded share of poor populations, with the worst levels of poverty occurring in the city’s informal shack settlements. The Coega Port and Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) is 25km north of the city and may cause enormous damage to local eco-tourism, fishing, agriculture and public health. In terms of eco-tourism and recreation, the Addo National Park, beaches, estuaries, islands and whales would all be adversely affected by the Coega IDZ and harbour development. The development would also disrupt the fishing industry in Algoa Bay. Air-polluting emissions from heavy industries at Coega threaten the valuable Eastern Cape citrus industry, as well as vegetable production and local animal products.

A feasible, multiple-use alternative strategy for Coega’s space and environment was put forward prior to development. The alternative agro-tourism strategy for Coega included a new casino, recreation and hotel complex, mariculture (abalone and oyster aquaculture), a salt works, and an expanded zone of irrigated agriculture.

Serious threats to public health include air pollution from sulphur dioxide and heavy metals from the IDZ and Harbour. Sulphur dioxide is also widely acknowledged as a respirator irritant and a broncho-constrictor, whose effects seem to be particularly acute for asthmatics. No cumulative assessment of air pollution impacts from an IDZ of this magnitude has been undertaken. So there is no information regarding the total levels of pollution that will result from the proposed industries.

Contaminants will accumulate in the local environment. Heavy metals – are persistent in the environment – they will not biodegrade, nor can they easily be cleaned up – and many of the contaminants in question are proven carcinogens.

Algoa Bay is a rich ecological area, in particular the St Croix island group marine reserve. The harbour threatens the last stronghold of the African Penguin. The IDZ’s own specialist consultant has said that the development “may well deal the species the fatal blow.” The Algoa Bay islands are the last Southern African habitats of the Roseate Tern, whose continued existence in the sub-continent is therefore critically threatened. The harbour would seriously impact on the endangered Humpback Dolphin, and adversely affect the habitat of the Southern Right Whale. The IDZ would also affect the development of the Greater Addo National Park.

The Coega IDZ is also keen to manufacture the nuclear components required for the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR). According to Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa, “The need for new and increased sources of energy is becoming more urgent.

Ecological costs to the area will include the closure of important commercial fishing grounds as a result of increased commercial shipping in the area, increased pollution in Algoa Bay and the effects of dredging on currents in Algoa Bay.

Environmental costs to neighboring citrus, vegetable and animal industries have not been fully investigated and include fluoride and other emissions into the air and wastes into subterranean water reserves from heavy industries.

Public costs will include Coega’s use of water and electricity. In some parts of the Eastern Cape, including the Algoa Bay, a decision to devote water resources to one project may well preclude another.

Port Elizabeth, especially in times of drought, supplements water supplies from across the catchment into the Orange River system. That system has also shown signs of stress, and it has been impossible since mid-1993 for Port Elizabeth citrus farmers to acquire increased water rights.

Ironically, it is in Port Elizabeth that the 21st annual conference of the Society for Conservation Biology will be held in 2007. The conference will attract about 2 000 delegates. The right to host the conference was won by NMMU’s Terrestrial Ecology Research Unit, (Teru) headed by director, Prof Graham Kerley. Kerley said the contribution of Africa to conservation science – the application of science to prevent extinction of species – would be important. The metro’s plant and animal diversity and the easy access to big five nature reserves for delegates were two of the points that probably caught the judges’ attention in the Teru bid, he said. The challenges of land ownership patterns and environmental threats, plus the attraction of a marine and land environment also probably played a part.

So far, the East Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) has put aside 2.5 billion to invest in the toll road along the Wild Coast and over R1 billion is invested in the two industrial zones of Coega and East London every year.

Minerals and Energy Minister Lindiwe Hendricks said beneficiation of minerals in SA had huge potential, and the minerals and energy affairs and trade and industry departments were working to ensure input costs in manufacturing were brought to a level that would increase local production and make the country competitive.

Wild Coast

MRC mining plans to mine a 22km stretch of the coastline at Xolobeni. They could be awarded mining rights by the end of 2005. This would allow them to begin mining in 2007.

Environmentalists say eco-tourism would create far more jobs in the long run. Geoffrey Davies, the chairman of the Anglican Church’s Environment Network, said: “Eco-tourism is a far more sustainable option that could create 10 000 jobs. In 20 to 50 years, the Wild Coast could be a tourist’s paradise.”

Davies said since the mining site covered five river estuaries these could be destroyed as fish breeding sites.

For MRC, the development of the new N2 toll road linking Durban and East London is essential for the Xolobeni Mineral Sands Project.

Although Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk has declared his intention to protect the Pondoland National Park region, the boundaries are as yet uncertain.

The Pondoland centre of biological diversity and endemism is of international ecological importance, and was recently added to the list of 26 global floristic hotspots. The park offers beaches, marine and estuarine escapes and African cultural heritage, in addition to wildlife viewing.

“We have seen, in some areas, serious degradation over the past few years as a result of unplanned and inappropriate development, resource overuse and invasive species,” Van Schalkwyk said.

According to Eastern Cape Premier Nosimo Balindlela, the ecotourism potential of the Wild Coast is a key part of the province’s 10-year growth and development plan.

A Wild Coast project-commissioned survey has shown that tourism would have a much more positive long-term effect than mining in Xolobeni. The Grant Thornton survey was presented to the Wilderness Foundation. Thornton’s brief was to conduct a financial and socio-economic assessment for a period of 22 years, from 2006 to 2028, in order for it to be compared with the lifetime of the proposed mining operation.

The assessment was done in terms of national plans to develop a “bioregional planning framework for the large-scale implementation of a conservation and sustainable development programme across the Wild Coast between the Mtamvuma and Kei rivers”.

This would include areas from the northern point of the Mkambathi nature reserve to Mtamvuma just south of Port Edward on the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal border. MEC Andre de Wet said that developers were very keen to get projects started. He added that the Development Bank of South Africa had established a special unit to look at projects along the Wild Coast and that R500m had been put aside for this.

The capital cost of all the projects in the six areas identified in the assessment is estimated at R288m, with more than two-thirds of this in the Mzamba area (R193m), followed by R31,6m for each project at Mnyameni and Sikombe, R16,6m at Mphlana right down to R3,1m at Mtentu. The cost includes infrastructure such as water, roads, electricity and sanitation.

The proposed tourism projects include a 60-bed three-star hotel and 50 residential units at Mzamba, 20 timber-framed chalets at Mphalana with a similar operation at Mnyameni, a tented camp added to existing facilities at Kwanyana, 20 timber chalets at Sikombe, a tented adventure camp at Mtentu and an upgrade of the existing facilities there by

Wilderness Safaris. The projected income from each project would be about R28m. The gross operating profit from the projects is estimated at R6,4m in the first year, rising to R12,4m at the end of the projected 22-year time frame. Income from related activities like hiking, abseiling or river rafting has not been included.

The initial phases would provide more than 4000 jobs across the area, dropping to about 450 once the projects got off the ground. This means that proposed tourism investments would have significant financial, economic and socio-economic impact benefits for the area that would remain long after the 22-year lifespan of the mining operation.

Tormin Sands

MRC also plans to mine at Tormin Sands, 400 km north of Cape Town. The Tormin Feasibility Study is currently undergoing a final technical review and assessment with the Company hopeful that the results can be released in due course to the market.

Richards Bay

The goal of Richards Bay Minerals was, and is, to mine and beneficiate the vast mineral-rich sands in the coastal dunes that extend 17km in a 2km wide strip north of Richards Bay.

The mining and smelter developments have adversely affected residents. In a public notice the company advised: “asthmatics and others with respiratory problems, who have a low tolerance to smoke and dust, to remain indoors”. This was while they conducted a 72 hour bypass of their Fume Treatment Centre (FMT) to affect repairs on the 5th October 2004.

Mr Skosana, spokesperson for environmental justice group Vuka Environment Dot Com, based in Richards Bay said: “allowing Hillside to go ahead with this bypass operation without proper consultation, without putting in place emergency plans and without forcing Hillside to look at alternative, less harmful ways of continuing their operations is a breach of one of the fundamental principles of our democracy – environmental justice.”

A Richards Bay Ratepayers’ Association spokesperson stated: “To the best of my knowledge, the public was never informed that they would be subjected to uncontrolled emissions from Hillside. Hillside has been allowed to develop, and expand, on the community’s doorstep and the associated risks were never made public.”

Ardiel Soeker spokesperson for Groundwork, an environmental justice advocacy group said that communities like Richards Bay had fought a long and tiring battle to ensure that the government put environmental legislation into place to protect people’s health.

Global warming conference 2005

The deputy president of South Africa, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has said that we have compromised our planet and now have to adopt desperate measures to deal with what have become desperate times.

At the 2005 conference on global warming, he said: “Scientists and environmentalists have been sounding warnings for years about the need for sustainable development and for an end to destructive waste and toxic emissions. We cannot blame lack of information or ignorance, especially those of us who are policy-makers … leaders and … responsible members of our community. The consequences we are facing are affecting our strategies to develop our communities because we have to face – at the same time – the challenges of having to deal with our under-development and having to ensure that we halt the negative impact of climate change.”

This and future generations faced a world in which there was a greater incidence in floods, droughts, hurricanes and crop failures.

“These global challenges require global responses … that no one nation can handle and no nation must ignore,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

“I’m assured by the minister (of Environmental Affairs, Marthinus van Schalkwyk) that this is not just an academic exercise, but a process of national consultation and dialogue that must assist us to respond and put on the table a South African programme that we all can follow.”

Although South Africa, as a developing country, did not have as many responsibilities under the Kyoto Protocol as large, industrialized countries had, this should not be seen as a reason for the country to abdicate its responsibilities and not do “the best we can”.

TO SUPPORT THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST DUNE MINING AND SMELTERS ALONG THE SOUTH AFRICAN COASTLINE, PLEASE CONTACT THE FOLLOWING:

The president’s office: thandi@po.gov.za

or

Department of Trade and Industry

Website:
www.thedti.gov.za

E-mail:
contactus@thedti.gov.za

Mail:
Private Bag X84, PRETORIA, 0001

Street:
The dti Campus, Block A, 3rd Floor, 77 cnr Meintjies and Esselen Streets, Sunnyside, PRETORIA

Tel:
(012) 394 3075

Fax:
(012) 394 0323

Director-General

Mr Tshediso Matona (Acting)

Mail:
Private Bag X84, PRETORIA, 0001

Street:
The dti Campus, Block A, 3rd Floor, 77 cnr Meintjies and Esselen Streets, Sunnyside, PRETORIA

Tel:
(012) 394 3075

Fax:
(012) 394 0323

Director: Marketing Communication

Ms Pamela Moeng

Mail:
Private Bag X84, PRETORIA, 0001

Street:
The dti Campus, Block A, 3rd Floor, 77 cnr Meintjies and Esselen Streets, Sunnyside, PRETORIA

Tel:
(012) 394 1649

Fax:
(012) 394 2649

Cell:
076 190 8747

E-mail:
pmoeng@thedti.gov.za

Information Officer

Mr Tshediso Matona (Acting)

Mail:
Private Bag X84, PRETORIA, 0001

Street:
The dti Campus, Block A, 3rd Floor, 77 cnr Meintjies and Esselen Streets, Sunnyside, PRETORIA

Tel:
(012) 394 3075

Fax:
(012) 394 0323

Chief Information Officer

Mr Alroy Dirks

Mail:
Private Bag X84, PRETORIA, 0001

Street:
The dti Campus, Block A, 3rd Floor, 77 cnr Meintjies and Esselen Streets, Sunnyside, PRETORIA

Tel:
(012) 394 5740

Fax:
(012) 394 6740

E-mail:
alroy@thedti.gov.za

Department of Minerals and Energy

Website:
www.dme.gov.za

Mail:
Private Bag X59, PRETORIA, 0001

Street:
Mineralia Centre, 234 Visagie Street, PRETORIA

Tel:
(012) 317 8000

Fax:
(012) 322 3416

Director-General

Adv Sandile Nogxina

Mail:
Private Bag X59, PRETORIA, 0001

Street:
Mineralia Centre, 234 Visagie Street, PRETORIA

Tel:
(012) 317 8134

Fax:
(012) 320 5807

E-mail:
mpumi.gaven@dme.gov.za

Chief Director: Communications

Ms Yvonne Mfolo

Mail:
Private Bag X59, PRETORIA, 0001

Street:
Mineralia Centre, 234 Visagie Street, PRETORIA

Tel:
(012) 317 8380

Fax:
(012) 322 4954

Cell:
082 459 6862

E-mail:
yvonne.mfolo@dme.gov.za

Information Officer

Adv Sandile Nogxina

Mail:
Private Bag X59, PRETORIA, 0001

Street:
Mineralia Centre, 234 Visagie Street, PRETORIA

Tel:
(012) 317 8134

Fax:
(012) 320 5807

E-mail:
mpumi.gaven@dme.gov.za

Thank you for your help.

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Sonjica pulls out the only card the ANC knows – the racism card (Xolobeni)

zapiro-racism-card-pick

Minister slams divisive whites
By Fred Kockott

Rich whites are to blame for dividing people in the Wild Coast area, where an Australian company wants to mine for heavy titanium minerals, says Minister of Minerals and Energy Buyelwa Sonjica.

Talking in Xhosa to an audience of several thousand in Xolobeni on the Wild Coast on Friday, Sonjica dismissed opposition to the mining as the work of “rich whites” who were only interested in enjoying South Africa’s pristine wilderness areas.

She laid into human rights attorney Richard Spoor for challenging plans to mine the Wild Coast.

“There is a man called Richard Spoor who has divided the community,” said Sonjica.

“He is a white person. Today Spoor says he is fighting for people’s rights, but where was he when Joe Slovo (former South African Communist Party leader) was fighting for people’s rights and was imprisoned for that?

“I ask myself: ‘How much does he get for dividing our community? What is his agenda for not wanting progress in our community?’”

Spoor, who could not be contacted for comment, is widely respected as a fighter for human rights and in the 1980s helped the National Union of Mineworkers develop into a force to be reckoned with by the then apartheid government.

Despite strong environmental objections and an ongoing inquiry by the South African Human Rights Commission, Sonjica has awarded provisional mining rights to Mineral Resource Commodities and its South African subsidiary, Transworld Energy and Minerals (TEM).

In his reaction, Human Rights commissioner Jody Kollapen criticised Sonjica for playing the race card in an attempt to dismiss objections to the mining.

Kollapen said he had met members from the affected communities who felt that the government was running roughshod over their traditional land rights.

“The fact that white people might be involved in providing assistance, information and legal advice should not detract from the problem we have to deal with – that they maintain they have not been adequately consulted about the impact of the mining and decisions to allow it.”

Sonjica said the greater St Lucia area – now part of a World Heritage site – had been “lost to tourism”.

“We lost St Lucia – us, as the government. We gave it up, but what is happening in St Lucia today?” she asked.

“It has been declared an exclusive area, and only rich, white people go there.”

The same should not happen in Xolobeni, she said, where people were sitting on one of the biggest titanium deposits in the world. Sonjica said this asset belonged to all the people of South Africa.

“Why do we need permission to mine natural resources? Why do we have to wait for people to teach us about nature? They come here to play, while we are hungry.”

In her speech, Sonjica did not mention that the another government department – environmental affairs and tourism – had officially lodged objections to the mining operations. The plans are to excavate 346 million tons of heavy minerals from a 22km stretch of coastline of international ecological significance.

The provisional licence covers the Kwanyana block of the Xolobeni Mineral Sands Project – about 30% of the total area being prospected.

After declining media interviews this week, Sonjica, her director-general, Sandile Nogxina, and other senior representatives of the department headed for Xolobeni for what turned out to be a government jamboree of sorts to celebrate the granting of the licence.

Sonjica told SABC TV she had arrived to hear the people’s concerns, but the meeting’s agenda made no provision for this. Only after a group of about 100 protesters – including residents of the area to be mined – disrupted proceedings did organisers agree to give them a brief audience with Sonjica after the day’s pomp and ceremony.

Sonjica said, “If anything goes wrong at Xolobeni, the government will have to answer for it”, adding safeguards had been put in place to ensure the mining company would “take care of the environment”.

“We are going to mine in this area at Kwanyana. I will give you a chance to ask questions but, one thing is sure, we are going to mine.”

Published on the web by Sunday Tribune on August 17, 2008.

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MRC granted right to mine along SA’s Wild Coast

By: Christy van der Merwe
Published on 4th August 2008
Updated 5 hours ago
The Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) has granted ASX-listed mining junior Mineral Commodities (MRC) the mining right for a portion of the Xolobeni Mineral Sands project, along South Africa’s Wild Coast.

The company was awarded a mining right for the Kwanyana block in the Xolobeni project, representing about 30% of the original area applied for.

The mining licence was awarded to MRC’s South African subsidiary, Transworld Energy and Minerals, and the remaining areas in the Xolobeni project would be held under prospecting right valid until 2010, which could be extended until applications were made to convert the remaining areas into mining rights on a block-by-block requirement.

DME spokesperson Sputnik Ratau told Mining Weekly Online that it was not yet possible to tell whether further licences would be granted, as the areas were still under consideration owing to environmental concerns. He remained assured of the feasibility of granting a licence for the smaller area.

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 mining right would be signed and issued on October 31, along with the Environmental Management Plan, and thereafter the company has said that it would fast-track the development of the Kwanyana block into a mining operation to produce heavy-mineral concentrate to supply the local South African producers and international markets.

It was not stated whether or not the mine development would include a beneficiation plant. Initially, MRC had indicated that it would build a smelter, which would also boost the number of jobs created in the relatively poor region of the Eastern Cape, however, the company later said that the plant would not be a part of the project. Ratau could not immediately clarify on the question of the beneficiation plant was put forward.

The project has long been met with resistance from environmentalists and those concerned for the human rights of people living in the area. The project is located in an ecologically sensitive area, dubbed a “biodiversity hotspot”, and it was felt by many that eco-tourism in the area could bring more benefit to locals.

The mining company’s black economic-empowerment structures have also been drawn into question.

However, MRC has stated that the project would do much for the development of the area, as the mine would bring with it associated infrastructure, such as roads and electricity.

Nongovernmental organisation Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) said it considered the fact that mining licences were not granted for all the areas “a substantial, although clearly incomplete victory”, and added that interested and affected parties “await to be officially informed by DME of their decision”.

Ratau said that the department did not issue statements every time a mining licence was granted.

In a statement, SWC said that it did not share MRC’s optimism that its grip on the prospecting rights was as tight as it would like investors to think, “because the newly enacted Integrated Coastal Management Act has come into play, which gives the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (Deat) unquestioned jurisdiction in records of decision that impact on coastal areas”.

Ratau said that the Deat had been involved in the granting of the Kwanyana block mining right, as was required by law. This was, however, a contentious issue as Deat officials had previously indicated environmental objections to the proposed mining in the area.

SWC called on all interested and affected parties to respond with objections as soon as possible.

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