It is quite strange to read in the local newspaper that the department of environmental affairs has no intention of lifting the ban on 4X4 vehicles being able to travel along the beaches even though it has been proved that travelling below the high water line ensures that there is no environmental damage to the beach. Currently 4X4’s can be used to take tourists along the beaches as this is a big source of income in the area.
BUT on the other hand……..
The KwaZulu-Natal environmental affairs department has now approved a very controversial dune mining project to South African company Exxaro KZN Sands. The mine would be located in Mtunzini and the adjoining Umlalazi nature reserve.
What makes this approval even stranger is that Exxaro KZN Sands is now in bed with the Australian company, New Tronox Group.
Investigations have revealed that the New Tronox Group was formed from a bankrupt corporation which allegedly managed to polluted 22 states in the United States of America (not quite half of America but pretty close!) with nuclear waste, wood poisons, rocket fuel, mining, waste oil, and gas.
The mine would be situated a mere 100 metres from the coastal resort town which generates most of its income from ecologically-based tourism.
Now from my side of the fence, it would seem that the executive GM of Exxaro Mineral Sands, Trevor Arran, has blackmailed the government by saying that the KwaZulu-Natal north coast region would suffer economically and lose more than 1000 jobs if the government denied the company’s application to open the Fairbreeze mine. And of course we know that there is an election coming up shortly and the ANC government needs to create a few jobs as quickly as possible to lured the voters back. Mr Arran does not dwell on the negative side of what the mining is going to do to an entire town or the nature reserve located along the coast.
Barbara Chedzey, chairwoman of the Mtunzini Conservancy, said: “Exxaro (has) not carried out a full review of the jobs lost should rehabilitation fail at Fairbreeze. Such failure of rehabilitation at Fairbreeze is very probable given Exxaro’s poor record of rehabilitation at the Hillendale mine.”
I managed to get hold of some photographs that the Mtunzini Conservancy took of what the area looks like after Exxaro had mined the dunes at the Hillendale mine.
Valued between R1.4bn and R2.4bn, the Fairbreeze project aimed to extract heavy minerals such as titanium, zircon, rutile, and leucoxene. Profit over conservation?
According to the Mercury newspaper the mine was expected to have harmful impacts on Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s well-known Umlalazi nature reserve, the Siyaya coastal forest and the Twinstreams environmental education centre.
The local population living in Mtunzini will not benefit from any job creation as the majority of job will be filled by the very people who were involved in the dune mining near Richards Bay. And if memory serves me well, there were just over 300 people involved in the mining and not thousands as Exxaro and would like us to believe.
It is also sad to think that at the beginning of 2012 there was a conference in Durban relating to global warming and how South Africa was lauded for the steps it was taking to combat global warming. Now the government is willing to approve the dune mining even if Exxaro has a track record indicating that they cannot deliver on rehabilitating the dunes after they have taken all the minerals they want and lined their pockets with the profits.
And the saddest of it all is that they got permission to continue with the mine even though not all the required authorizations (environment impact studies etc) are in place. Various parties, such as provincial agriculture, environmental affairs and the rural development department all rejected the initial basic assessment report that Exxaro submitted last year. Further objections from the residents of Mtunzini and environmental groups such as the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA have also had no effect on permission to mine being granted
NOW I WONDER IF I SHOULD EVEN CONSIDER THE POSSIBILITY THAT CERTAIN PARTIES WHICH HAVE A SAY IN GRANTING MINING PERMISSIONS, HAVE SUCCUMBED TO ENRICHING THEMSELVES?