Australian mining company Mineral Commodities Resources has, since 2006, applied for rights to mine the titanium wealthy sands which many members of the community of Xolobeni have opposed.
Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe visited the area last weekend where according to Richard Spoor, the attorney representing the anti-mining Amadiba Crisis Committee, the anti-mining group was refused entry to participate in the meeting.
Spoor said that should mining go ahead it would result in 70 families living inside the proposed mining area losing their homes and another 150 families would lose grazing land for their cattle, their ploughing fields and access to the sea that they fish.
Sinegugu Zukulu, a member of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, said that the land that was targeted for mining was used to produce food for locals and also to sell to sustain themselves and educate their children.
“The area of Mphahlana sends sweet potatoes to the value of about R90000 to Durban three times a week from the land which the government wants to mine and the government sees no value in that.
“The question that the people are asking the government is how the mine will benefit them when they’re uneducated and because mines are highly mechanised they’re going to require people with skills, but these are elderly people who are living off the land,” Zukulu said.
He said that a lot of families had been able to send their children to tertiary institutions through selling the produce they get off the land.
Areas that could be affected if the mining goes ahead are the communities of Xolobeni, Mphahlana, Mnyameni, Kwanyana, Sikhombe and Mthinti in the Umgungundlovu traditional community which spans at least 20km of the Wild Coast.
Spoor said that people in the community, which is isolated with poor roads, no electricity or supermarkets, had maintained their traditional way of living and did not endorse a disruption of that.
Nobuhle Mazeka, from Xolobeni said: “Our lives here are not as the media and officials portray.
“Who defines poor? Because the way the elite define development is not the way we define it.
“For us development is about sustaining our livelihoods, where we get our food, where we get our water, basic human needs like that,” Mazeka said.