World Heritage area saved by mine withdrawal

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 09 December 2010

In the face of a torrent of objection from the conservation community, Richards Bay Minerals has withdrawn its prospecting application submitted with a view to mine north of its present operation.

Looking towards iSimangaliso, and the the highest forested coastal dunes in the world. Photo by Paul Dutton - 2008

The decision was confirmed to the Zululand Observer on Saturday by consultants, Golder Associates.

‘While proceeding with the Environmental Management Plan and public participation process, RBM recognised they would be intruding into a zone identified as having a potential negative influence on a World Heritage Site,’ said consultant Kristine van der Meer. ‘This would not be in keeping with their biodiversity and environmental principles.’

In order to extend its mining activities by two to five years, RBM applied in August to the Department of Mineral Resources to conduct prospecting at two new sites.

The Zulti North site – now abandoned – stretches between the current RBM lease area to south of Maphelane Nature Reserve. According to Van der Meer, the application for prospecting rights at Zulti South, situated south of the Richards Bay harbour entrance between the northern tip of eSikhaleni and south of New Mouth, continues.

RBM will submit comments as well as the Environmental Management Plan for the proposed prospecting activities on 15 December, an extended deadline following complaints.

‘This is still in the very early stages and far from a full EIA process,’ said Van der Meer. RBM can expect an equally volatile voice of objection to the proposed Zulti South prospecting.

Heavyweights including Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the iSimangaliso Park Authority were joined by organisations WESSA, Coast Watch, ZEAL, Zululand Wildlife eForum, Wildlands Conservation Trust, Space for Elephants Foundation, Wildcall, Endangered Wildlife Trust and others in condemning even the thought of encroaching on habitats adjacent to pristine nature reserves.

By: Dave Savides
Source: Zululand Observer

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