Isimangaliso Action Group have have submitted comments re the Proposed mining (photo below showing proposed drill sites) of the dunes in the protected area South of Mapelane: – Comments on the Draft Basic Assessment Report for the Application For Environmental Authorisation Of Prospecting Proposed By Eyamakhosi Resources (Pty) Ltd (KZN 30/ 5/1/1/2/10732pr)
……. Attention: Thami Mabaso and Senzi Thabisile Mabaso
Dear Ms Mabaso
The iSimangaliso Action Group is a group of citizens concerned with the prospecting proposed by the Eyamakhosi Resources. The original members of this group were involved in the Campaign for St Lucia which successfully stopped the mineral sands mining of the eastern shores of Lake St Lucia in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The group first heard of this application in July 2018 while planning an event to commemorate this victory. Our concerns are set out below:
1. Public Consultation Process We are concerned with the public consultation process with regards to this application, as it is on the southern boundary of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The park is an internationally recognised area by UNESCO as a world Heritage site and it is also protected in terms of The World Heritage Convention Act (Act 49 of 1999) under South African law. Despite this, the application was only advertised in the iLanga newspaper 24 to 27th May and in the Zululand Observer on the 27th August 2018. In light of the above we have the following concerns:
1.1The notices should have been placed in a national newspaper and sent to wide range of national interest groups such as the Wildlife Society of South Africa, Earthlife Africa, Wildlands Trust in addition to government regulatory bodies etc as is the norm with an EIA process of national importance
1.2 When an EIA process is undertaken such as this; the application and the correspondence is logged, acknowledged and a matrix attached to the documentation of who registered as Interested and Affected Party, who requested documents and who attended public meetings etc. In the BAR report only the meeting with the traditional authority is recorded.
1.3When concerned members of the public became aware of the process in July 2018, they sent e-mails, telephoned the consultants and they were promised documentation, this was only finally circulated on 5th of October 2018 via dropbox with note in the dropbox message stating that there was 30 days to comment on the report. There was no covering letter stating the closing date for comments as is expected in a public consultation process of this importance.
2. Conservation and Bio diversity The application area is identified in the Systematic Conservation Assessment (SCA) for the Province as a Critical Biodiversity Area (CBA 1). Based on irreplaceability analyses, CBA 1 areas are irreplaceable, as the planning units represent the only localities to achieve the Provinces Conservation targets. Such sites have to be afforded maximum protection if we are to ensure that the Province’s conservation goals and targets are achieved.
The area is home to between 130 and 150 bird species a number of which are near threatened or critically endangered, near endemic and range restricted e.g. Southern Banded Snake-eagle. These would be impacted by the nature of the proposed activities to the extent that the activity would eliminate some of the species from the area such as a localized population of Columba delegorguei (Eastern bronze-naped pigeon or Delegorgue’s pigeon). This species is listed as ‘vulnerable’ and is threatened by fragmentation of forests and clearing of forests.
In addition the site falls within a Critically Endangered, National Threatened Terrestrial Ecosystem in terms of the Schedule gazetted under the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act 10 of 2004), as KwaMbonambi Dune Forest (KZN 8). This ecosystem extends from Richards Bay in the south up to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park boundary. Less than 1% of the ecosystem is protected in the Nhlabane Nature Reserve and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park combined. The area consists of six vegetation types: KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Forest, KwaZulu-Natal Dune Forest, Mangrove Forest, Maputaland Wooded Grassland, Maputuland Coastal Belt and Swamp Forest. Any prospecting or mining of this vegetation type, given its rarity and poor representation in protected areas, must therefore be considered unsustainable, and hence any impact assessment would logically arrive at this conclusion.
We are further concerned that the lead consultant for the Ecological Assessment Report Mr Le Roux has now distanced himself from his Ecological Assessment Report, on the grounds that it was prepared on inaccurate information and he is no longer confident his conclusions about the nature and significance of the impacts are correct. He has also recommended that among other things, that a specialist wetland study is undertaken. Specialist reports on coastal dynamics and morphology, wetlands, estuaries, plants, mammals, reptiles, birds and invertebrates are also necessary as is a report on the likelihood and impacts of radiation contamination from the prospective operations.
3. Geomorphology and drilling sites The BAR is incorrect in the statements that the terrain under consideration is “flat” as the proposed prospecting area has the second largest vegetated sand dunes in the world. The dunes under consideration (Majakaja at 182m and one further south at 188m) are South Africa’s two largest dunes and the proposed prospect area is certainly not “flat”. Based on the geomorphology of the dunes, they are also known to be prone to slumping. Coastal dune slumping has been recognised as a major issue in the prospecting and mining operations to the south. This has occurred in areas much flatter than the area under consideration in this BAR and resulted in the frontal dunes failing as a result of the mining occurring behind them. The BAR is also inconsistent in saying that not more than 3.4ha of indigenous forest will have to be cleared to facilitate access to the 200 drilling sites located inter alia in wetlands. It is in fact more likely that the drilling and establishment of a road network to allow for the prospecting will extend across some 5.81 square kilometres of Critically Endangered Threatened and Protected Terrestrial Eco-systems and will thus result in the direct destruction of some 11.4ha or more of vegetation. It is possible that even more access roads will be needed as the prospecting that took place south of the proposed prospecting area by Richards Bay Minerals left tracks that were visible for years after the process took place. (see annexures)
4. Shareholders Members of the group did request that the shareholders in Eyamakhosi Resources (Pty) Ltd be listed. They have not been listed other than the CEO. We would like all the shareholders and their interest in the project to be clearly listed.
5. Legal Framework The area in question is a protected area in that it listed as the Sokhulu State Forest consisting of 500 hectares and was gazetted as such in 2011 in Government Gazette Notice 34462 No. 44 of 22
July 2011. In terms of this notice the area is transferred from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to the Department of Environment and Water Affairs and to our knowledge the responsibility for the management remains with the Department of Environment. This was done to enable the incorporation of this area by the Department of Environment Affairs into the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. In the BAR report, no application has been made to Minister of Environment Affairs for application to carry out prospecting activities or reference to the fact that the area is a State Forest and is thus protected.
In addition we found the following omissions under the legal framework which are required to be addressed; 5.1Item 3(e) of Appendix 1 of the EIA Regulations, 2014 requires that the BAR must include: “a description of the policy and legislative context within which the development is proposed including(i) an identification of all legislation, policies, plans, guidelines, spatial tools, municipal development planning frameworks, and instruments that are applicable to this activity and have been considered in the preparation of the report; and (ii)how the proposed activity complies with and responds to the legislation and policy context, plans, guidelines, tools frameworks, and instruments;
5.2 Section 3.3 of the BAR has omitted a number of key acts, guidelines and development planning frameworks and does not address compliance with these acts, guidelines, and planning frameworks. Some of these are: a. The World Heritage Convention Act 49 of 1999, its regulations and the Integrated Management Plan specific to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site which abuts the proposed prospecting area; b. The National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act 57 of 2003 and associated regulations; c. The National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004 and its subordinate legislation; d. The National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act 24 of 2008; e. The National Forests Act 84 of 1998 and associated regulations which protect the indigenous forests over which the proposed prospecting area lies as well as specific species of trees; and the proclamation which assigns these forests to the National Department of Environmental Affairs; f. The National Water Act 36 of 1998 in relation to the wetlands and underlying aquifers on site;
4g. The Financial Provisioning Regulations, 2015 (as amended) which regulate the determination and making of financial provision for the costs associated with the undertaking of management, rehabilitation and remediation of environmental impacts from prospecting; h. Guidelines published in terms of Section 24J of the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 which are required to be applied to the EIA process; i. Provincial conservation legislation; j. The relevant district and local municipal planning frameworks, including the Integrated Development Plans and Spatial Development Frameworks; k. The Department of Mineral Resources (“DMR”) Mining and Biodiversity Guidelines; l. The relevant municipal by-laws.
6. World Heritage Site The BAR fails to recognise that the application area borders the Maphelane section of the iSimangaliso World Heritage Site (WHS) and is located wholly within the established Buffer Zone to the World Heritage Site. World Heritage status is the highest form of protection that can be afforded to an area by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as sites are recognised as containing priceless and irreplaceable possessions, not only of the republic, but of humankind as a whole; and the loss, through deterioration, disappearance or damage through inappropriate development, constitutes an impoverishment of the heritage of all peoples of the world and, in particular, the people of South Africa. South Africa has through an Act of Parliament enacted The World Heritage Convention Act (Act 49 of 1999) which brings into South African law the World Heritage Convention (adopted by the Member of States of UNESCO in 1972) and Operational Guidelines, which requires that buffer zones be established around all World Heritage Sites (Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, Section II. F, Protection and management: Buffer zones: Paragraph Numbers 103 – 107). One of the requirements associated with the declaration of the Park as a World Heritage Site was that, a “Buffer Zone” be established. Section 28(2) (a) of the Protected Areas Act 57 of 2003 makes provision for the establishment of such a Zone. We believe that this is a fatal flaw and that the application should be withdrawn on this basis.
Conclusion Based on the information provided, we are of the opinion that this application is being undertaken by a small company with no proven track record in mining, that in terms of current legislation it has ignored the legal framework in making an application for an area that is protected to the test waters. It must be pointed out that recent attempts to
Flout legislation by mining companies and government have been taken to the highest courts in the land by civil society and communities. It with this in mind that we request that Eyamakhosi Resources (Pty) Ltd withdraws the application or that DMR declines the request.
We look forward to your reply and please do not hesitate to contact us.
Bryan Ashe Co-ordinator iSimangaliso Action Group