Schoenies mining given go-ahead
The controversial Schoenmakerskop sand-mining project has been approved despite the objections of residents, which have been ignored by the department of mineral resources.
The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality is also challenging the approval.
Schoenmakerskop Ratepayers and Residents’ Association chair Prof André Lemmer said on Thursday that the association had not received a substantive response from the mineral resources department.
It subsequently raised the matter with the department of environmental affairs.
Lemmer raised the issue on behalf of the association in a letter to environmental affairs, calling for the July 18 deadline for appeals against the approval decision to be extended.
“Our documents outlining objections, sent to [the department of mineral resources] re the application by Schoenmakers Mining were never acknowledged, nor were our objections responded to in any way,” he wrote.
“We require more time for consultation with legal and environmental professionals to lodge further objections and to direct an appeal to your department that the approval be rescinded.”
The association e-mailed its letter of objection on August 10 2017 to the office of mineral resources acting regional manager Brenda Ngebulana.
The following day, in a clear indication that the objections had been received, Lemmer received an e-mail from the department’s mineral regulations representative, Ncumisa Ncobo, asking him to supply the name of the applicant or a project reference number.
But Lemmer and the association heard nothing further until June 28 when news of the project’s approval was received via the mining applicant’s consultant.
On Thursday, questions were sent to mineral resources to establish why it had not at least confirmed receiving the objections.
Receipt of the reporter’s
‘Our objections [were never] responded to in any way’
André Lemmer RATEPAYERS’ ASSOCIATION CHAIR
questions was confirmed, but no response was forthcoming by the time of going to print.
The metro has, meanwhile, confirmed for the first time that it has also objected to the project in terms of “a number of high-priority concerns pertaining to the environment such as sand movement as well as a projected increase in traffic and the prospective impact on the road condition”.
Metro spokesperson Kupido Baron said on Thursday that the municipality would now be challenging the approval.
According to the project proposal, Schoenmakers Mining, a holding company of Glendore Sand and Stone, intends to mine a 5ha site 1km out of Schoenmakerskop.
The site includes a dune mounted by a historic World War 2 fortress observation post that the ratepayers’ association, backed by the Historical Society of Port Elizabeth, has warned is protected by the National Heritage Resources Preservation Act.
Schoenmakers Mining has stated that it will avoid the building, but the association has argued that the mining could still undermine its foundations and cause it to collapse.
The association has also raised concerns that the increase in heavy trucks on the narrow lower section of Victoria Drive, which is already in poor repair, will increase the danger for motorists.
Sand will probably be blown across the road from the eroded dune, increasing the risk of accidents.
The association also argues that the mine could signal the end of Ironman, the flagship annual international event hosted by the metro, leading to huge economic damage.
Besides these objections, the elephant in the room appears to be the landmark ruling by the Port Elizabeth High Court in August 29 2017 in another sand-mining conflict, in Lake Farm. The judge ruled that mining could go ahead only on land zoned “industrial 3”.
The metro has already confirmed that the Schoenmakerskop sand mine site is part of erf 118, which is zoned “undetermined”, allowing only for limited housing and agriculture on council’s special consent.
HEART-WARMING: Thembi Ngobese, left, from 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day, helps Patricia Gonqobe choose a scarf to ward off the winter chill. Thousands of scarves, knitted by volunteers, were available around the country on Thursday to those in need, in the fourth annual national #SSS (Secret Scarves Shhh . . .!) mission