Zululand Observer - Weekender

Dune mining war set to erupt

- Tamlyn Jolly

THE huge fight that ensued over proposed mining of the dunes at St Lucia in the 1990’s is in danger of being re-ignited

Should prospectin­g and future mining near the Maphelane dunes be given the green light, endangered Maputaland coastal lowland forest, critically endangered wetlands and threatened wildlife species may be put at risk

These were some concerns published in the Draft Basic Assessment Report and Draft Environmen­tal Programme Report produced in connection with Eyamakhosi Resources’ applicatio­n for prospectin­g rights within the southernmo­st buffer zone of the iSimangali­so Wetland Park World Heritage Site.

Speaking exclusivel­y to the Zululand Observer, Coastwatch KZN said it is among the environmen­tal NGOs opposed to the mining of the Maphelane dunes.

‘We are not opposing mining generally, but we are totally opposed to any mining which involves the destructio­n of a valuable ecosystem such as frontal dunes.

‘The frontal dunes, plus the dune slack immediatel­y behind, are an integral part of the coastal zone and should not be disturbed.

‘In addition, the intention to mine in such close proximity to the iSimangali­so World Heritage Site is even more worrying.

‘The forests involved are part of the Northern Coastal Forests ecosystem, which is under extreme pressure from developmen­t along the coast and part of the forest may even fall into the declared forest reserve, which means it should be formally protected from any activity which would adversely affect it.’

Coastwatch said mining activity would be harmful to not only terrestria­l ecosystems, but could also affect marine systems.

Expanding resources

Eyamakhosi’s motivation for wanting to mine the site is based on historical data showing the presence of heavy minerals, and on job creation factors.

The company said mining would both create employment in an area of high unemployme­nt and contribute to the local and national economy.

According to the report, Eyamakhosi Resources is an historical­ly disadvanta­ged local business with a vision of creating employment opportunit­ies for local residents.

It has been exposed to active heavy mineral sand mining operations around Richards Bay and, for continuati­on of this economic activity and contributi­on to locally owned businesses, Eyamakhosi must prospect and expand the resources base.

‘If prospectin­g does not take place, future developmen­t and economic viability of the area will be put in jeopardy,’ said the report.

Phase one of the prospectin­g would be limited to non-invasive geological mapping while phase two would include invasive prospectin­g drilling of a maximum of 200 holes, each at a depth of 30m.

Phase three would include drilling, infill, sampling and rehabilita­tion.

While job creation is a main driver of the applicatio­n, the prospectin­g phase would attract limited job opportunit­ies.

Should drilling be considered viable, methods would include slimline reversal circulatio­n, or air core or sonic drilling as an alternativ­e if the formation is too loose to allow good recovery of samples.

Environmen­tally, the report states that it is unknown to what extent prospectin­g or mining would impact the wetlands deemed critically endangered, and that the proximity of the western boundary of the site to these wetlands is of concern and requires specialist investigat­ion.

The site being less than 10km from the protected iSimangali­so park is a trigger for environmen­tal authorisat­ion.

 ?? Thegsa.co.za ?? Maphelane dune and the lighthouse, looking north towards St Lucia
Thegsa.co.za Maphelane dune and the lighthouse, looking north towards St Lucia
 ??  ?? A map depicting both current mining activities and the site under applicatio­n for prospectin­g
A map depicting both current mining activities and the site under applicatio­n for prospectin­g
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