Fishing communities oppose West Coast mining plans

File picture: Pexels

File picture: Pexels

Published May 13, 2021


Cape Town – Before it’s too late, fishing communities are largely saying no to mining on the West Coast, which they say could threaten fishing stocks, vegetation and pose health implications for residents.

Prospecting mining company Buchuberg Resources (Pty) Ltd and Cape Zircon (Pty) Ltd hosted their most recent public meeting for the community of Lambert’s Bay in relation to its application to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) to prospect for minerals including diamonds, gold ore, heavy minerals, rare earths and mineral sands.

In March this year, Buchuberg Resources (Pty) Ltd lodged two applications for onshore prospecting rights and environmental authorisation, and in April Cape Zircon (Pty) Ltd also lodged two applications.

Opposition in the public meetings has been strong in Lambert’s Bay and Ebenhazer.

Small-scale Lambert’s Bay fisher, Rosey Shoshola, said: “This mining is going to badly affect our fish stocks and our fish will decline. What will we eat then? How will we send our children to school if our livelihoods will be stolen from us like this? We say no to mining.”

Small-scale fisher and chairperson of the Papendorp Development Forum, Andre Cloete from Doornbay, said they were also against mining.

“Mining will change the character of the place, damage the fishing, damage the beauty and nature. There are still mine dumps from the late 1960s and 1970s that have not been rehabilitated.

’’This is not going to benefit the people of this community. Papendorp is already underdeveloped, they want to destroy it before normal development has even taken place,” said Cloete.

Masifundise, an organisation that does community development work in small-scale fishing communities, said they were concerned about the implications of the applications.

“The applications that have been put forward for prospecting mining affect a vast area of the West Coast, from the south of the Olifants River, all the way to Elands Bay. We are really concerned with the cumulative impact of these four applications, should they be successful.

’’Heavy mineral mining will have dangerous consequences for the livelihoods and food security of fishing communities, impacting on water, biodiversity and the health of both the environment and people in the area,” programme manager Carmen Mannarino said.

“In addition to this, should mining go ahead in the area, it would be that the entire West Coast of the country, from Port Nolloth to Elands Bay, will be wall-to-wall mining.

’’This will impact the viability of small-scale fishing, which has been traditionally the livelihoods of these communities, as well as tourism and conservation activities. We believe that this undermines opportunities for sustainable development, with livelihoods and job creation, in this coastal area.”

Both the DMRE and representation for the companies did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.

Environmental group Protect the West Coast, which is fighting against mining operations on the coastline, said: “South Africa’s West Coast is part of the Cape Floristic Region and inside the Fynbos biome, the West Coast is home to thousands of species of unique plants, most of which are found nowhere else in the world.

’’Despite the creation of short-term jobs, mining adversely affects ecosystems and has a detrimental knock-on effect to the broader West Coast environment, economy and society.”

Cape Times

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