The community of Xolobeni needs mining in order to bring about much-needed development in the area.
This is according to Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe whose department was dealt a blow this morning when the Pretoria High Court ruled that it must obtain consent from the Xolobeni community before giving mining rights to an Australian company seeking to operate there.
“If we say we are not going ahead with mining in that area, we must say so and close that issue and just stop mining,” Mantashe said.
“If we say it must go on then it must. What is not good for that area is that there has been a decision pending for 16 years on that mine and there is no conclusion on that matter. Xolobeni does need that mine, that is my view, not as a standalone but that area needs development. Mining and tourism will be alongside each other but that will require access to the area,” Mantashe said.
The minister added that those who were frustrating the mining process in the area were those with big houses along the coast who did not want the community to be developed.
Mantashe said that part of the judgments would have to be appealed as they took away government’s right to give mining rights to mining companies.
He insisted that this would lead to companies turning their backs on South Africa and mining being banned in the country.
When asked by City Press if government could not take over mining, Mantashe said that government would face the same challenges as companies currently do.
“Nationalisation as an option should be a voluntary decision by the state and it must be economical because if we say the state must take over mining in areas which were inhibitingly difficult for a company, what will be different when it is the state?
It will be the same because if the state must give benefits of R60 million before it starts mining instead of giving benefits out of developing, it may not work for the state or a private company.”