Pro­posed dune min­ing ap­pli­ca­tion ‘rid­dled with in­con­sis­ten­cies’

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO NEWS - Tam­lyn Jolly

‘IT would be the height of ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity for per­mis­sion to be given for ex­tremely dis­rup­tive min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties to take place.’

These were the words of vi­o­lence mon­i­tor Mary de Haas, whose op­po­si­tion to the pro­posed dune min­ing in Maphe­lane is echoed among a num­ber of con­ser­va­tion groups.

Threats to en­dan­gered and crit­i­cally en­dan­gered ecosys­tems, and in­con­sis­ten­cies in the draft Ba­sic As­sess­ment Re­port (BAR) pro­duced by At’Enkosi Con­sul­tants on be­half of Eya­makhosi Re­sources, are the main causes for con­cern for prospect­ing on this en­vi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive site.

A cru­cial mat­ter raised by An­drew Zaloumis, for­mer CEO of iSi­man­gal­iso Wet­land Park and cur­rent Di­rec­tor at Wild Eq­uity Foun­da­tion, is that of the des­ig­na­tion and trans­fer of the Sokhulu State For­est to the De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs (DEA) with the in­ten­tion of in­cor­po­rat­ing the as­signed 500ha into iSi­man­gal­iso.

The procla­ma­tion was signed by the pres­i­dent and gazetted in 2011.

It ef­fec­tively trans­ferred the for­est within which the prospect­ing area is lo­cated, from the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­eries (DAFF) to the DEA.

Richard Boon, a botanist and ecol­o­gist with 35 years ex­pe­ri­ence in the en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment field, said prospect­ing and min­ing will lead to ir­re­versible im­pacts on en­dan­gered and crit­i­cally en­dan­gered ecosys­tems of both na­tional and in­ter­na­tional sig­nif­i­cance.

‘A more sus­tain­able land use for this area would be en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and tourism - from which the com­mu­nity ben­e­fits - as part of the buf­fer to the iSi­man­gal­iso World Her­itage Site.

All ob­jec­tors re­ported nu­mer­ous in­con­sis­ten­cies and er­ro­neous in­for­ma­tion in the BAR.

These in­clude the size and spe­cific lo­ca­tion of drilling sites not spec­i­fied, the drilling rig di­men­sions and ac­cess road width not spec­i­fied, the site be­ing de­scribed as ‘flat’ whereas it varies from 5m to 190m above sea level, and that there are omis­sions in the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of listed ac­tiv­i­ties.

The BAR states that there are ac­cess roads to the site, but Zaloumis dis­putes this, say­ing there is only a north-south track on the western side of the site and a sin­gle track from there to the light­house.

Zaloumis said the BAR also in­ad­e­quately de­scribes the re­ceiv­ing en­vi­ron­ment and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of im­pacts.

It does not in­clude a de­scrip­tion of the world her­itage sta­tus of the land or its zone of in­flu­ence; the so­cial, cul­tural or eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties of the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties; bi­o­log­i­cal at­tributes and their con­ser­va­tion sta­tus, in­clud­ing the St Lu­cia es­tu­ary which is South Africa’s largest and most im­por­tant es­tu­ary; coastal and dune forests; coastal grass­lands; and the pres­ence of rare and threat­ened species in­clud­ing the south­ern banded snake ea­gle and po­ten­tially the whitewinged fluff­tail which is one of the most rare and threat­ened bird species in the world.

‘There is no doubt that prospect­ing and/or min­ing in this area will sig­nif­i­cantly un­der­mine its sus­tain­abil­ity and re­silience, and flies in the face of our con­sti­tu­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity to ex­er­cise a duty of care for the en­vi­ron­ment,’ he said.

Prospect­ing and min­ing will lead to ir­re­versible im­pacts on en­dan­gered and crit­i­cally en­dan­gered ecosys­tems

A float­ing dredger sucks heavy min­er­als from coastal sand dunes north of Richards Bay

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