Mining blocked in Western Cape

2010-08-31 14:49

Cape Town - CapeNature has welcomed a six-month moratorium on prospecting licences in the Western Cape province.

"We really welcome the decision to review the act. We have lately been concerned that prospecting applications for formally declared protected areas are considered by the department," CapeNature spokesperson Liesl Brink told News24.

CapeNature objected to prospecting applications in Western Cape Nature Reserves and is the commenting authority for Environmental Impact Assessments as part of the application process, unless specific input is required from the Western Cape department of environmental affairs and development planning.

"This announcement affirms that the department will now review the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) citing growing concerns of corruption and incompetence during the administration of the MPRDA," CapeNature said.

The decision follows on the court case between the City of Cape Town and mining company Maccsand that resulted in the firm being interdicted from mining, despite holding rights granted from the department of minerals and energy.

Nature reserve

"This particular ruling clarifies why it is important for us as the custodians of legislation and more specifically as the administration voted into power by the people of the province, to make informed decisions which acknowledge and consider all legislative frameworks," MEC for environmental affairs and development planning, Anton Bredell told News24.

CapeNature in conjunction with World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) have initiated plans to formally declare a 62 000ha area, situated in the Knersvlakte, as the latest provincial nature reserve.

The Knersvlakte is a region of a hilly terrain covered with quartz gravel in Namaqualand in the north-west corner of the Western Cape province. The name is thought to be derived from the sound of gnashing of teeth caused by the hard quartz stones as they were travelled over in wagons.

"The proposed declaration of the Knersvlakte, classified as both a global biodiversity hotspot and one of the WWF's most outstanding places on earth, follows nine years of negotiations with landowners.  The land was bought through willing-buyer willing-seller agreements and funded by the WWF," CapeNature said.

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said that while mining remains the "bedrock" on the South African economy, there was growing discontent with the way the industry operates.

Ambiguities

"Flowing from the tripartite process which led to the mining industry strategy and the more public debates recently, it is clear to me that... The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act of 2002 contains a number of ambiguities.

"Due to the fact that the MPRDA is a relatively new piece of legislation, there is a lack of well-developed jurisprudence which would ordinarily assist with interpretation of the law. In the absence of such precedents, officials apply the letter of the law as opposed, for example, to interpreting the spirit or intentions of the law," said Shabangu.

She said that her department will make information regarding the status of mining licences and exploration available on their website and in addition to the moratorium, prospecting rights would only be issues from the head office as opposed to the regional offices as had been the case.

Shabangu also promised to deal with corruption and inefficiency in the department.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Read more on:    capenature  |  susan shabangu  |  mining
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