Diamond mining application hat trick further threatens untouched Karoetjieskop area of West Coast.

Yet another diamond prospecting application has been approved in the sensitive Karoetjieskop coastal strip, making it three in the same area in a matter of weeks.
An example of what the Karoetjieskop area could look like soon if all three applications go ahead and they find what they are looking for. Image – Xavier Briel.

Can you Adam and Eve it? The South African Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has just approved an Environmental Authorisation (EA) for the company Richwill Diamonds (Pty) Ltd to prospect for diamonds on the same stretch of coast as two earlier prospecting applications, both publicised by Protect The West Coast (PTWC) last week.

The first of the three is an application WC 50/1/1/2/10454/PR by Fish by the Sea (Pty) Ltd for an EA to conduct ‘invasive’ prospecting (involving pits and trenches) between the high-water mark of the sea and the low-water mark of the sea, on the farms Rietfontein Extension (No. 151) and Graauw Duinen (No. 152). 

This was followed immediately by notification of the approval by the DMRE of application WC30/5/1/1/2/10429PR by Kotze West Coast Mining (Pty) Ltd for an EA for ‘non-invasive’ alluvial and general diamond prospecting over 2,960 square kilometres of terrain on the farm Karoetjieskop (No. 150), and the adjacent surf zone up to 31.5 metres below the low water mark.

Now the DMRE has granted an EA to Richwill Diamonds (Pty) Ltd for their application WC30/5/1/1/2/10430PR to also prospect for diamonds using ‘non-invasive’ methods on Portion 1 of the farm Karoejtieskop (No. 150), and the adjacent surf zone up to 31.5 metres below the low water mark.

To the DMRE’s credit, they denied Richwill Diamonds permission to use invasive methods (coastal trenches) to prospect for diamonds, and in order to do so the company will have to make a fresh application. Likewise for Kotze West Coast Mining. They too are only at the non-invasive stage… for now. 

Regardless, whatever stage each of these neighbouring applications is currently at, or reaches, the inevitable outcome is the destruction of up to 30 kilometres of pristine, untouched coastline via one giant, open pit beach mine.

As we roll out each blog post, PTWC has repeated ad nauseam the risks and reasons why these applications should not be approved, which you can read in the above links. 

Instead of doing that here, we will ask the question: Why the sudden flurry of applications and approvals? This is something that we will be taking a closer look at shortly.

Prospecting and mining applications are granted along the entire West Coast 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 prospecting and mining, something Protect the West Coast (PTWC) has advocated since we were formed. Enough is enough.

PTWC urges the public to appeal and comment on these three decisions asap, as the windows for comments close on Feb 16, Feb 5 and Feb 15 respectively. We are also in the final stages of working on a platform that will streamline this process for the public, so watch this space!

In the meantime, if you want to help us protect the West Coast, please click on the links for the latest two full articles on the above, and follow the instructions at the end of each story to have your say, as well as follow the guidelines below to appeal against the latest application below.

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

Should you decide to appeal, you must comply with the National Appeal Regulation of 2014 in relation to notification of all registered and interested [parties]. A copy of the official appeal form can be obtained from the DFFE.

The Basic Assessment Report and Environmental Management Programme report is available for download below.

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