Protect the West Coast of South Africa
Protect the West Coast of South Africa
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This is an appeal for support so that PTWC can lobby the South African Government to stop the rapidly burgeoning heavy sand mineral mining up the West Coast of South Africa that negatively impacts coastal communities, other users of the coast and vast tracts of pristine wilderness.
Help us gather a collective voice to urge the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs (DFFE) to fufill their mandates to ensure the lawful and sustainable use and management of hundreds of kilometres of coastline between Columbine and the Orange River. In particular, we urge these two ministeries to observe their mandates in areas that are critically biodiverse; contain ancient and irreplaceable cultural heritage sites; and are water scarce and already utilised for agriculture. This includes the protection of biologically significant estuarine and marine areas that support fisheries resources and livelihoods.
From the current mining activities, and areas earmarked for mining, these industrial-scale extractions have lasting consequences for local communities, fisheries and the natural environment, for generations to come. As the appeal authority for environmental authorisations, this Ministry has the power to halt unlawful prospecting and mining if they do not comply with legally-binding decision-making procedures.
However, ad hoc approvals are being undertaken without a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) or an Environmental Management Framework (EMF) to guide decision-making. Ad hoc approvals do not enable an accurate assessment of the cumulative impacts of individual prospecting and mining applications for the entire area. Areas of serious concern are marine resources, sensitive coastal beaches, dunes and cliffs, critical biodiversity, water resources, air quality, cultural and heritage attributes, public access, lifestyles and livelihoods of local communities
The requisite scientific studies, environmental impact studies and fully comprehensive public participation have not been enforced. The fully informed involvement of indigenous communities impacted by mining is not only required by law, but critically important given their local knowledge and reliance on the environment for their food and livelihoods. There is an historical legacy of environmental degradation on the West Coast by mining, especially in the Northern Cape. It is critical that beyond the normal safeguards put in place against mining damage, a cautious and risk-averse approach is adopted to these sensitive and biodiverse areas.
As Protect the West Coast, it is our stated mission is to "protect the environment and local communities from environmental destruction on the West Coast”. We are not trying to stop mining completely, but to ensure the sustainable development of the region by encouraging the right studies not only around the impact of mining, a destructive, single-use activity that stifles efforts to find alternative economic activities already identified as the economic drivers in development plans, and which would be more sustainable, such as agriculture and nature-based tourism.
We call on the Ministry to:
1. ensure that existing mining activity takes place under environmental standards and conditions required by the relevant Environment Management Programmes. This requires strict oversight being implemented by the Departments of Mineral Resources and Energy and Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment; and
2. place a moratorium on all further prospecting and mining applications until a government commissioned SEA has been completed for the West Coast to specifically identify areas that may be suitable for mining and areas that should be avoided.
We stand for socio-economic development that does not degrade or destroy the environment; and compromise future generations, while ensuring sensitive and critically biodiverse environments are given due consideration.
Please stand with us to Protect the West Coast from reckless mining activities that have limited benefit for the people of South Africa, and especially communities of the West Coast. We call on Ministers Gwede Mantashe and Barbara Creecy to do their jobs to protect the environment and local communities from destruction and impoverishment.
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