New mining application a major blow for Wild Coast tourism

Author: Dorine Reinstein

Source: tourismupate.co.za

The Amadiba people, inhabitants of the Xolobeni area at the Wild Coast, are outraged about Transworld's renewed application for mining prospecting rights in the area, saying any mining activity in the area will kill tourism.

Last year, Mineral Resources Minister, Susan Shabangu, withdrew Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources' mining rights at Xolobeni after the traditional leaders and the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) proved there were 'outstanding environmental issues' Transworld needed to address.

According to Val Payn, Chairperson of Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC), the proposed mining prospecting will take place along the scenic coastal strip on the Wild Coast, a major drawcard for tourists. "Not only will mining destroy the scenery, it will also destroy a large part of the Pondoland Centre of Plant endemism as well as the traditional lifestyles of local amaMpondo communities."

Payn says the local communities have put a lot of effort into eco-tourism development in the area. The Amadiba communities are trying to resurrect the Amadiba hiking trails venture and have successfully set up community-based homestays for tourists. A young group of entrepreneurs have also resurrected the Mtentu log camp and tented camp. She adds: "The mining will totally undermine these fledgling attempts at establishing community-based ecotourism ventures."

According to Mzamo Dlamini, Chairman of the ACC, mining will completely undermine the entire tourism industry that used to employ many people in the area. "This community has no dream to mine this place. We will do whatever is in our power to stop mining-related activities. We are working hard trying to encourage tourists into the area. If we are successful with this and have lots of tourists flowing in, then mining will have no chance in the future!"

Representing the ACC in court is Legal Resources Centre's attorney, Sarah Sephton. She says: "The prospecting rights application could be approved even though we think it should not be as the Minister knows that there will be environmental degradation as a result. If approved, we have instructions to challenge it." She points to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Act, which stipulates that the Minister must refuse to grant a prospecting right if the prospective can result in unacceptable pollution, ecological degradation or damage to the environment.

Transworld was unavailable for comment at the time of going to print. However, Transworld director, Andrew Lashbrooke, was quoted in local newspapers as saying: "Transworld is convinced we can show we can mine at Xolobeni responsibly."