Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 02 February 2011
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF South Africa), together with numerous South African NGOs and the Centre for Environmental Rights, has compiled a list of areas to be declared no-go mining zones. The list was handed over to the Minister of Mineral Resources today (1 February 2011).
This list is aimed at assisting the Minister in exercising her discretion under section 49 of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 which seeks to prohibit or restrict granting reconnaissance, prospecting and mining rights and permits.
“This proposal will enable the Minister to prevent mining and prospecting in certain areas of critical biodiversity, heritage and hydrological importance,” explains Mark Botha, Head of Biodiversity at WWF.
The proposed areas include:
• National parks or nature reserves declared in terms of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, ,
• Marine protected areas under the Marine Living Resources Act, such as the Table Mountain Marine Protected Area;
• Mountain catchment areas declared in terms of the Mountain Catchment Areas Act, such as the Amatholes in the Eastern Cape;
• Ramsar Sites, including Barberspan near Delareyville, the Verlorenvlei north of Lamberts Bay, Kosi Bay and the Turtle Beaches of Tongaland in KwaZulu-Natal;
“These areas are key for our survival. They nurture one of the most amazing natural heritages in the world and support the bulk of our ecological infrastructure for water provisioning and filtering,” says Botha.
“What people tend not to realise is that such areas are the basis for a growing and sustainable economy. They provide agriculture with free basic inputs.
“We are asking that areas of key water catchments, groundwater recharge and ecosystems recognised as threatened or sensitive should be conserved. Cultural heritage sites identified by national or provincial heritage agencies also need protection” adds Botha.
The proposal is aligned to WWF’s mining statement which highlights the organisation’s concerns about the Department of Mineral Resources granting mining and prospecting rights in environmentally important areas. The organisation raised concerns about administrative justice in mining regulation failing the South African public (and responsible mining houses), citizens’ constitutional right for restrictions to be applied to mining in critical areas for water production, heritage and biodiversity and lastly the need for decisions regarding prospecting or mining rights to consider the long term impacts from inception to closure.
“The Minister of Mineral Resources has the power under section 49 to exclude certain areas from prospecting and mining. It is our view that protecting areas of such critical value through a prohibition on prospecting and mining is in the national interest and in compliance with a wide range of legislative imperatives, including the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. We further believe such actions will promote the sustainable development of the nation’s mineral resources, and are confident that our proposal will also be supported by the mining industry,” Botha says.”