Schoe­nies min­ing given go-ahead

The Herald (South Africa) - - Front Page - Guy Rogers rogersg@ti­soblack­star.co.za

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.

Pic­ture: FREDLIN ADRI­AAN

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

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