Calls to stop yet another diamond prospecting application!

PTWC urgently calls for the public to appeal authorisation by the DMRE for a company to prospect for diamonds on an ecologically fragile part of the West Coast.

Another perfect wave being threatened by this new application. Image – Ant Fox

PTWC urges the public to appeal the decision to allow the company Kotze West Coast Mining (Pty) Ltd to prospect for diamonds on 2,960 square kilometres of terrain in the Vanrhynsdorp region adjacent to 15km of pristine coastline.

Prospecting across a terrestrial extent of 296 hectares that starts just north of the Soutrivier mouth threatens the unique biodiversity of the area, traditional fisher livelihoods and recreational tourism dependent on the fauna and flora of the area. 

It also threatens a number of world class surf breaks, including an area utilised by the World Surf League for the Namakwa Challenge WQS surfing event in 2021 that boosted the local economy.

Matt Bromley getting a perfect one during the Namakwa Challenge. Image – Alan Van Gysen.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) granted the Environmental Authorisation (EA) under the National Environmental Management Act 1998 for “non-invasive” alluvial and general diamond prospecting on the farm Karoetjies Kop (No. 150), and the adjacent surf zone up to 31.5 metres below the low water mark.

This follows another recent application just south of the Soutrivier to prospect for diamonds. Fish by the Sea (Pty) Ltd has also applied for an EA to prospect (including invasive prospecting) for several years on the farms Rietfontein Extension (No. 151) and Graauw Duinen (No. 152) over 121 hectares of land and beach. 

The latest EA granted to Kotze West Coast Mining (Pty) Ltd allows for prospecting for diamonds only for a non-invasive ‘Literature Study Imagery Analysis, Geological Mapping and Geophysical Survey’. This method leaves the land mostly undisturbed because it mostly takes place on foot with hand held instruments.

However, the basic assessment report submitted in support of the application confirms that all the activities fall within a critical biodiversity area, with high sensitivity for aquatic biodiversity, cultural heritage, paleontology, terrestrial biodiversity, and a high sensitivity for animal species. 

How can we grant prospecting in places like this when full blown mining will impact already identified issues and result in the destruction of the beaches should Kotze West Coast Mining (Pty) Ltd find what they are looking for? When permission is granted to mine, another piece of the West Coast’s pristine, ecologically sensitive coast will be dredged, dug up and left in ruin. 

This will compound a pernicious and growing issue for the West Coast already eroded by the creeping cancer of existing mining activities and applications that is rapidly transforming this coast into one giant mining operation, both onshore and offshore. Not only does this destroy fauna and flora, but it severely impacts on the livelihoods of traditional fishers, rides roughshod over culturally sensitive areas, and severely restricts recreational tourism in the area.

Surf tourism is just one of many alternative, sustainable uses of the West Coast advocated by PTWC. We simply cannot afford to destroy what is left. 

There have been some huge names in the surfing world that have visited the area. Here we have Mick Fanning and Mason Ho on a Ripcurl trip. Image – Ant Fox.

We urge you to oppose the granting of the EA to Kotze West Coast Mining (Pty) Ltd by lodging an appeal with Minister Barbara Creecy by 5 February 2024. See the information below.

Prospecting and mining applications are also granted ad hoc, with no long-term study in the form of a region-wide Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) into the cumulative effects of all the current and proposed mining, something Protect the West Coast (PTWC) has advocated since we were formed. Enough is enough. 

Appeal to Minister Barbara Creecy, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment

Attention: Directorate Appeals and Legal Review

Email: appeals@dffe.gov.za

By Post: Private Bag X 447, Pretoria, 0001

By Hand: Environmental House, Corner Steve Biko & Soutpansberg Street, Arcadia, Pretoria, 0083

Copy to be lodged to the DMRE Western Cape

Attention Regional Manager: Western Cape Region

Fax: 021 427 1046

Email: Pieter.Swart@dmre.gov.za

By Post: Private Bag X 09, Roggebaai, 8012

By Hand: 15th floor The Box (Atterbury House), 9 Riebeek Street, Cape Town, 8001

A copy of the official appeal form can be obtained from the DFFE.

Background Information Document: English and Afrikaans versions are available for download below.

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