Minister freezes mining in Xolobeni

Activists hail “important” victory

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Photo of Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources
Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources Godfrey Oliphant at a meeting in Xolobeni in July. Photo: Mathieu Dasnois

An 18-month moratorium on mining in the Xolobeni area was announced yesterday by the Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane.

The decision freezes an application by Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources SA to mine titanium in the area and also prevents any further applications for mining.

One of the reasons the Minister gave for the decision is the “significant social disintegration and highly volatile nature of the current situation in the area”.

Earlier this year, anti-mining activist and Amadiba Crisis Committee chair “Bazooka” Rhadebe was assassinated. Other anti-mining activists fear for their lives in a community that is fiercely split between those opposing and those supporting mining in the area.

The Amadiba Crisis Committee has called the moratorium a “small but important victory for the coastal Amadiba community”.

“People feel that they can go back to their gardens and fields. We now hope that there will be a break from murder, violence and police harassment in the night,” said the Amadiba Crisis Committee in a statement.

They say that the government knows that the community doesn’t want mining in the area and that mining will destroy their land.

The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) with Richard Spoor Attorneys are representing the Umgungundlovu iNkosana’s Council, the Amadiba Crisis Committee and 128 residents in their court opposition to mining in the area.

In March this year, this group filed an objection to the mining application pointing to “various defects in the mining right application”. They claim that MRC failed to obtain consent of the Xolobeni community and that they “have constitutionally recognised customary rights of ownership over the land that was flouted by the mining right application”.

On 31 August the group wrote to the Minister asking for his assurance that the mining rights would not be granted without consent from the community, and warned that if they weren’t given this assurance they would file an application in the Gauteng High Court.

This application is now set for the High Court on Monday.

“The moratorium on mining will now give the community interim relief while the Court determines whether the community’s consent is required,” said the LRC in a statement.

At a meeting in the area in July, Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources Godfrey Oliphant warned residents that the government, not the community, would decide on the mine.

“Don’t appropriate power to yourselves,” he said, adding that the government could be trusted to make responsible decisions on mining.

TOPICS:  Human Rights Mining

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