Multinational mining company Tronox has been granted a permit to use large volumes of water to feed a controversial new titanium mine next to the Zululand town of Mtunzini.
The company said the Department of Water Affairs had approved its water-use licence application, the last environmental approval needed to begin mining operations next year at the Fairbreeze mine.
“It means that we can commence building the required operational infrastructure to have Fairbreeze up and running in 2015.
“This is great news for the region, our employees and business partners, and all the stakeholders who will benefit from Fairbreeze’s tremendous economic potential,” the company said yesterday.
But several residents believe otherwise, and have mounted a series of court actions to try to halt the mine.
A signboard advertising the proposed new mine next to the N2 North Coast freeway has also been altered to read “Tronox Fairbreeze Mine Sucks”.
“As we enter this next phase, we remain steadfast in our commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability,” said Trevor Arran, the president of Tronox Mineral Sands.
The company hopes to extract titanium ore, zircon and other minerals at Fairbreeze to replace ore from the company’s existing mine at Hillendale near Empangeni.
Arran did not specify how much water the company would be allowed to use in mining operations.
The Mtunzini Conservancy which opposes the mine, has estimated that Tronox will use 2 200 tons of process water an hour, equivalent to nearly 50 million litres a day.