Furore over sand mining operation

2018-08-02 06:00

CORNISTON residents in Verulam are up in arms after a sand mining company lodged an application for permission with the Department of Mineral Resources to allow them to excavate sand in the area.

More than 100 disgruntled residents have signed a petition and lodged an objection to the granting of a sand mining permit to Phumalanga Mining (PTY) LTD from mining at the Umdloti River.

Residents claim that the mining will have serious environmental impact on the river and in turn the community.

Principal of Umdloti Primary School Badsha Adam claimed that he was duped into giving consent for sand mining to take place about 500 meters away from his school.

“I was approached by an individual with a person whom I think was the applicant [for the sand mining]. They told me that the company wanted to develop the area through sand mining. They went on to say that it was not going to affect my school because they will be digging sand at the banana plantation - which is far away from my school. They told me that they were seeking an application for sand mining and needed permission from the residents,” Adam said.

Adam said he gave consent to the representatives from the company.

“A couple of months later, a resident Hayley Govender informed me that mining which I consented to was going to take place close to my school.

“I then withdrew from my initial consent. I was misled. Thereafter we signed a petition to oppose the granting of a sand mining permit,” Adam said.

He said residents are concerned about the safety of the pupils should the company be granted permission.

Coastal Weekly visited the area on Tuesday, July 24 to hear the views of the residents.

Govender who was visibly upset, demanded answers from the company.

“Most of the residents in our area are not aware of the consequences that sand mining will have in the near future. My house is close to the bank of the river. I fear that my home will be affected. We invested a lot for our homes. As ratepayers we’re unhappy about this proposal,” Govender said.

Residents further claimed that Dube Tradeport is the owner of the land.

A local farmer in Mount Moreland Visvanathan Chetty said: “I am totally against sand mining in this area because it is going to damage my property and plants. If we give a go ahead to the company to start digging from the bank of the river, as farmers we will not be able to plant anymore,” Chetty said.

Golden Phakathi crosses the river almost every day from Corniston to Verulam CBD.

“Young children are crossing Umdloti River. We feel that once the company starts excavating and extracting sand, the environment will be impacted. The river is deep and there’s no foot bridge crossing over. The company will dig huge trenches and leave open space. Children will drown,” Phakathi said.

Owner of Phumalanga Mining (PTY) LTD Eugene Shangase said public meetings were held with the community to discuss the matter and there were no objections raised.

“It’s only one person who got a problem - Hayley Govender. She went and mobilised the community and told them to raise objections after we held a meeting. I think she is jealous because she and her husband applied for a permit a long time ago and they started digging sand. We had door to door interviews with the public about the proposed sand mining operation, and none raised objections,” Shangase said.

He said that the spot where his company intends to excavate sand is far from the school.

“We have no intention whatsoever to put the lives of the children and community in danger. Govender influenced people to oppose the application. I am not happy about this. However, we have decided to withdraw from operating in this spot because it looks like there are unforeseen problems in this operation,” Shangase said.

Ward councillor Johnson Chetty said sand mining within the confines of a residential area is a highly sensitive matter.

“There are huge implications for the people who live within that precinct. Invariably, it may lead to a deleterious impact on the quality of life.

“It may also impact on the health and safety of the vulnerable children, elderly and infirm people. Traffic congestion is another concern. There’s a great possibility of the roads infrastructure being compromised. What the environmentalists are agitated about is the effect on the fauna and flora.

“Sometimes, the natural habitat is disturbed so greatly, that there’s no chance of reversal,” Chetty said.

Coastal Weekly contacted the Dube Tradeport to get a comment.

Spokesperson for Dube Tradeport Vincent Zwane requested questions to be sent to him via email, however at the time of going to press nothing was forthcoming.

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