By Joel Scanlon
South African Mining Minister Susan Shabangu has revoked the mining rights for a Wild Coast dune mining venture. The move was expedited due to strong opposition from the local community ably backed by environmental and tourism groups.
The South African government had awarded these mining leases to the Australian company Transworld Energy and Minerals and Xolobeni Empowerment Company in July 2008. Amadiba residents have been fighting a long and frustrating battle through the Amadiba Crisis Committee. They had lodged objections to the mining rights awarded in September 2008.
The Amadiba Crisis Committee was supported by the NGO Sustaining the Wild Coast. The project has also been challenged by the owners of the nearby Wild Coast Sun Casino and by environmental groups which fear that mining would destroy the sense of place of the Wild Coast and the potential for new eco-tourism ventures.
Transword has been given a chance to address the environmental concerns that led to the revoking of the mining rights pending a final decision by the mining minister. In a letter to the Legal Resources Centre dated May 17 this year Ms Shabangu said that the right was granted when there were still outstanding environmental issues that had been raised by the regional manager of the Eastern Cape region in June 2008.
She also wrote that Transworld should address those concerns and send information on it to the regional manager within 90 days of her letter. Although she has left a window open for the Australian miner the pressure is not likely to ease off in three months. She has asked for further documents to be provided before she can give her final decision.