Unlawful Mining

13 Dec

I have on previous occasions blogged about how the mining companies are raping of country. Since the news of the possible mining broke way back in 2001 we have seen how greed has paved the way for the mining company to get away with breaking a plethora of laws and getting away with it.

And because we are allowing them to flaunt the laws, other mining companies all across South Africa are saying to themselves: If they can get away with it, so can we. A glaring example of this is the fracking debacle taking place in the Karoo.

Here is a copy of the mail I received. Especially for those of you living along our pristine (at the moment) beaches – take note of what is possibly coming your way in the future as they work their way down the coast.

And don’t say in a few years that you were not warned!


SOS Mtunzini Conservancy

Our Beautiful Natural Heritage


Dear Friends of Zululand and the environment,

Imagine our natural heritage in KwaZulu Natal – preserved in parks like Umfolozi, Hluhluwe, and Mkuze to mention a few. Think of the incredible privately owned game parks also conserving our natural heritage and underpinning the tourist industry. Picture how these preserves of biodiversity combine with the rural landscape, agriculture and forestry to produce the unique landscape that is KZN and that sustains the tourist industry. But then imagine an opencast mine for 20 years next to a Zimbali, next to Umfolozi, next to Mkuze Game Reserve. What would the impact be on these iconic places, of a development that must destroy everything to extract the minerals required for our flat screen TVs? What would the impact be of such an altered landscape on tourism in KZN and the jobs provided by these national assets?

Is it possible that in KZN, a game park or tourist lodge could suddenly find itself gazing into the void of a mining pit, or looking up at the blunt profile of a tailings dam instead of the natural tree line, while at the same time being buried in dust? Sadly, as things stand at the moment, the answer is yes, and for some the nightmare may be real! In fact it is about to happen to the picturesque coastal town of Mtunzini and to Twinstreams, the oldest environmental training centre in South Africa.

How is this possible in an area where regional and municipal planning have identified agriculture and tourism as the key drivers of development and growth? Well, it is certainly possible in a country where mining often appears to trump all, enabling it to avoid answering the tough questions that the various authorisation processes are intended to tackle. In the end result, authorisation is seldom turned down and is often a box-ticking exercise, and a mine is seldom held to account for the damage it causes.


The pressure to mine is real and it is growing. Currently there is prospecting on the sea bed off the north KZN coast for minerals and oil, and opencast mineral sand mining all along the east coast on the primary and secondary dunes, and now even further inland next to the Ongoye forest west of Mtunzini. Such rampant unplanned expansion of mining has the potential to ruin the eastern seaboard of South Africa and reduce it to chaos. The potential for sustainable job-creating industries like agriculture and tourism will be lost to short term open cast mining projects.



The proposed TRONOX KZN SANDS Fairbreeze mine is a massive open cast mineral sand mining operation situated only 100 metres south of the picturesque coastal village of Mtunzini, and immediately east and west of the N2 freeway – the gateway to Zululand. This open cast mining process is a very destructive, unsightly process with uncertain prospects for rehabilitation post-mining.

It is well known that the Save Our Sands (SOS) Mtunzini Campaign is opposed to this mine in particular, and to open cast mineral sand dune mining in general, on the eastern seaboard of South Africa – with its high population and potential for tourism and agricultural industries. The SOS Mtunzini campaign is currently participating in all the authorisation processes currently in progress with respect to the Fairbreeze mine. Our objective is to get TRONOX KZN SANDS to do a full Scoping and Environmental Impact Assessment, something that the law requires for this scale of activity, but which Tronox has avoided up to now. We believe that only then will there be a transparent and comprehensive evaluation of the project, which will result in it either being stopped, or modified to be less destructive to the environment and amenities of Mtunzini and a wider Zululand.

TRONOX KZN SANDS appears however, to be determined to mine at all costs and as soon as possible. The authorisation processes conducted by TRONOX KZN SANDS appear to be characterised by a lack of transparency, a propensity to take short cuts, and avoidance of the expected legislated process, so denying stakeholders administrative justice and severely prejudicing stakeholder rights – your rights. These are complaints that we have raised at every juncture in the authorisation processes.


TRONOX KZN SANDS has recently started construction of the Fairbreeze mine before all the authorisations are in hand, and before the environmental appeal process has been completed. It contends that in respect of the bulk of the mine, it requires no planning approval, since it “commenced mining” in 2002. What it in fact did in 2002, was a sampling exercise, which it described as such in a public notice at that time, stating that mining would only commence some years later. It thus seeks to avoid any planning scrutiny of the vast bulk of the mine, on the basis that because in 2002 no planning approval was required, and because it “commenced mining” then, it is exempt.  We contend that their interpretation is wrong, both in law and in fact. Since, however, Tronox has unilaterally started the mine, and clearly has no intention of stopping, we are required to interdict it until these authorisation processes are completed. Failure to do so will result in a fait accompli, because by the time the processes are completed, the mine will be up and running, and most of the environmental harm will have been done.

There is of course a much wider issue than just the plight of the Mtunzini community. Mining development without planning approval has profound implications for the future of KZN and other provinces. Municipalities are required to have clear development plans for their areas that spell out the future trajectory of development. If the mining industry is not subject to municipal planning and expects to be able to come and go as it pleases, what are the implications for local investment? Tourism is a long-term investment, and eco-tourism is critically dependent on the underlying environmental assets. It is simply untenable that mining – or any other enterprise for that matter – should have carte blanche to cut across long-term planning strategies, destroying a carefully crafted planning vision for the area, without subjecting the proposal to detailed planning scrutiny. We therefore say that this mine should in its entirety be subject to planning scrutiny before it starts, and any attempt to circumvent that – as TRONOX KZN SANDS is seeking to do – cannot be allowed.


At a Crossroads

We are therefore at a crossroads. It is sadly true that unless we as civil society act now to force TRONOX KZN SANDS to comply fully with the law, no-one else will. TRONOX KZN SANDS seems to have taken the stance that it will simply start mining, and continue unless someone stops it. If we don’t act who will? To do this we need to raise about R300,000 to interdict TRONOX KZN SANDS and compel it to stop mining until all the authorisation processes are complete. We believe the outcome of these processes will have a material effect on whether, or in what form, Mtunzini will have to endure this mine.

SOS Mtunzini request for your financial support

Please help us by giving us the financial support we need to ensure that the powerful mining industry complies with the law and follows correct municipal planning procedures. In order to meet our goal and raise the R300 000 we need, we ask that supporters of our cause donate R250 or R500 or R1000.

SOS Mtunzini (Save Our Sands) is the joint campaign of the MRA (Mtunzini Residents Association) and the Mtunzini Conservancy to address the proposed sand dune mining to the North and the South of Mtunzini. The Mtunzini Conservancy (Reg. No. 2007/006455/08) is a Section 21 company. The Mtunzini Conservancy has Section 18A tax status and can issue tax certificates for donations made.

Please make your donations to:

The Mtunzini Conservancy at any branch of First National Bank

or via the internet to:

First National Bank
Sort Code: 220130
Account number: 62093027475

Please use your business name or surname and initials as a reference and fax to + 27 86 512 6476 or email to the following information:

  1. Proof of payment
  2. your full name
  3. postal address
  4. E Mail address and your telephone number

For donations from outside South Africa, the details for the bank and bank account are as follows:

First National Bank
Empangeni Branch
PO Box 13, Empangeni 3880
KwaZulu Natal
South Africa
Sort Code: 220130
Account number: 620 930 274 75

If you have any problems, you can contact the Operations Manager at First National Bank, Empangeni:

Mrs Reeva Cornelius
Telephone: +27 35 772 6763
Fax number: +27 35 7922591

The Mtunzini Conservancy (Reg. No. 2007/006455/08) is a Section 21 company (Non Profit Organisation).

The Mtunzini Conservancy has Section 18A tax status and can issue tax certificates for donations made. Our auditors are:

Hills Howard & Associates (Pty) Ltd.
PO Box 585 Empangeni 3880
Tel: +27 35 772 6611

Thank you for supporting SOS Mtunzini.

Yours faithfully
Barbara Chedzey
Chairperson Mtunzini Conservancy

SOS Mtunzini Committee members

Stan Whitfield: 083-655-8983
Barbara Chedzey: 083-326-0699
Doggy Kewley: 083-630-1839
Wendy Forse 082-722-3333
Jim Chedzey 083-326-0698
Bruce Hopwood 083-301-2958


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One response to “Unlawful Mining

  1. Ruth2Day

    13/12/2012 at 09:22

    Indeed, very worrying.

    Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2012 07:43:47 +0000 To:


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