| EASTERN CAPE

Gwede Mantashe to meet Xolobeni residents opposed to mining

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But residents sceptical of his intentions

Photo of anti-mining protest
Residents of mining communities picketed outside the Pretoria High Court in April in support of the Right To Say No to Mining Campaign. Archive photo: Zoë Postman
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Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe will, on Sunday, meet residents of an Eastern Cape community opposed to mining in their area.

In August the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) proposed a 24-month moratorium on mining applications in Xolobeni. This is the area on the Wild Coast where anti-mining activist Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe was murdered in March 2016.

The moratorium follows a court case on whether community consent is needed to grant mining rights to Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources (TEM), a subsidiary of Australian mining company MRC, that wishes to mine titanium in the area.

Mantashe’s meeting comes after a letter sent to him by Johan Lorenzen of Richard Spoor Attorneys. The firm, which specialises in human rights litigation, is acting on behalf of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, 65 households in the Xolobeni community, and the iNkosana’s Council of the Umgungundlovu community.

Lorenzen told GroundUp: “My clients’ opinion is that they are frustrated with what they perceive as the reasoning for the moratorium, that the mining can’t go ahead because of the limited infrastructure of the area and the two year moratorium will give time to create it. And this frustration is bolstered by the recent publication from TEM which seemingly confirms the construction of the mining project.”

Meanwhile TEM has published investor reports about the progress of the mining project. The report contain graphics of the planned project in Xolobeni and states that the “new South African government leadership is pro development of the project”.

In April, a court case was heard in Pretoria on whether community consent is needed to grant TEM mining rights in the Xolobeni area. Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, the advocate for the Amadiba Crisis Committee, argued that community consent was needed in order to grant mining rights.

He was opposed by Vincent Maleka, representing the DMR who argued that the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act does not include community consent as a criterion for granting mining rights, and that there would be no legal rights lost by the residents if TEM is granted mining rights. Judgment is still awaited.

The DMR has not responded to GroundUp’s request for comment, but it has announced that Mantashe is meeting the community on Sunday. But Lorenzen sounded a sceptical note: “The perception amongst my clients is that this is a staged event, that people will be bused in to support mining … They believe they have the central decision making rights.”

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TOPICS:  Mining Xolobeni