Protect the West Coast (PTWC) is a not-for-profit organisation (NPO) established in 2020 by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to put a stop to the illegal and destructive mining activities which are running rampant on South Africa’s West Coast.

The team comprises a collective of concerned South Africans (including scientists, journalists, activists, legal and media experts) who work for the organisation to ensure that mining on the West Coast of South Africa is conducted with the correct and proper oversight in accordance with fundamental principles of the law. These are the fundamental environmental rights enshrined in our Constitution, the applicable environmental and mining statutes, and the correct fulfilment of authorisations granted to companies that mine in this sensitive and biodiverse region.

Due to an avalanche of applications to mine and prospect for oil and gas, diamonds and heavy mineral sands that have been hastily granted ad hoc by the South African Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), PTWC is fighting an urgent battle starting with legally tackling bad mining practices and approvals for individual mining operations that will lead towards our medium-term goal of forcing a moratorium on all prospecting and mining on the West Coast until an all-in-one Strategic Environmental Assessment is completed.

Guided by constitutional law that protect the citizens of South Africa, this assessment needs to provide a framework for present and future generations to adopt a cautious and risk averse approach to ensure that the communities of the West Coast – their heritage and their future – are not impoverished in pursuit of the short-term benefits touted by the mining houses.

The DMRE is legally obliged to the citizens of our country. The watchdog role the DMRE is mandated to provide is sorely lacking, while their mandate to promote mining has exploded into a situation where almost 500 km of coastline could be mined within a few years. A culture of non-compliance has crept into their processes, which puts the burden of their oversight role firmly on civil society. PTWC has become the unified voice for concerned stakeholders and civil society playing the watchdog role. This is done through media advocacy, legal challenges and partnerships with communities and other organisations.