Proposed dune mining application ‘riddled with inconsistencies’
‘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