Less than a month after property owners in the St Helena Bay area got wind of a mining company’s application to prospect phosphate and other mineral commodities on their doorstep, they mobilized such a strong team effort to oppose it that the applicant surrendered straight after the first public meeting in the official public participation process.
Bernado Oosthuizen, the bellwether behind the impressive “offensive team strategy”, was preparing for legal action after Thursday’s Public Open Day meeting in Vredenburg when the sole director of K2017432278 (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, Neels Hoek, on Monday morning took the wind out of everybody’s sails by throwing in the towel and announcing his withdrawal of all applications in an official email to all the registered Interested and Affected Parties (I&AP’s).
“Dear Interested and Affected Parties
I refer to the Prospecting Right application lodged by K2017432278 (SA) (Pty) Ltd to conduct prospecting activities over certain farms within the administrative district of Malmesbury. (DMRE REF: WC 30/5/1/1/2/10292PR)
I also refer to the public meeting held on 28 July 2022 at Vredenburg.
I wish to thank all for your inputs and participation during the meetings.
I have taken note of your concerns and constructive criticism of the proposed project.
Although the current application did not constitute mining, you have voiced concerns about the future negative effect that mining activities will have on the area concerned.
I drove through some of the areas and visited the affected towns and observed already established impacts on the environment such as the Windfarm, residential developments, fishing factories and businesses as well as farming activities. All these activities have an impact on the environment. And all these activities are present within a relative small area.
Having applied the cumulative impact principle, I am of the opinion that if you add mining to the already impacted areas, the environment, and not just specifically the area earmarked for exploration, but the entire area may be irreparably damaged.
Although mining has a reputation of being invasive and destructive I do prescribe to the Equator Principle which is a baseline and risk management framework to identify, assess and manage environmental and social risks when pursuing projects.
It is important to only invest in responsible and sustainable projects from an environmental and social perspective. It is further equally important to have the support from local communities when pursuing a project.
You, as impacted communities have made it clear, and rightly so, that you oppose the project and you voiced legitimate objections and environmental concerns.
As a result of your inputs and also having observed the areas myself, I cannot with a clear conscience recommend this project to continue.
I have thus advised my investors, etc that I intent to withdraw the application, which decision was supported and agreed to fully.
I therefore wish to put on record that I intend to withdraw the application and shall not pursue it any further.
I again wish to thank you for your passionate participation during the public meeting.
I trust you will, in future, allow me and my family to visit your beautiful area again, not as a prospective miner but as tourist.
Should you require any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.”
MERA ADVISERS (Pty) Ltd
Oosthuizen, who owns part of Duyker Island adjacent to the pristine Golden Mile in St Helena Bay and is passionate about the preservation of this unique and ecologically sensitive environment, expressed his joy, relief and gratitude for this unexpected turn-about in a post on a Facebook page “St Helena Bay – NOT a mining town!” which he created solely for the purpose of creating awareness and mobilizing resistance against anything that threatens it.
The above follows an application from the company K2017432278 (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd to prospect six (6) mineral commodities including Phosphate Ore (P), Heavy Minerals (HM), Leucoxene (Lx), Rutile (Rt), Monazite (Mz) and Zirconium Ore (Zr) on the following properties:
- The Farm Duyker Eiland 6:
- A section of Portion 4
- A section of Portion 5
- A section of Portion 7
- Portion 11
- Portion 14
- The Farm Schuitjes Klip 22:
- Portion 1
- Portion 3
These properties occur within the West Coast District Municipality, within the Western Cape Province.
The proposed site is 2,889.38 hectares (ha) in extent and situated approximately 5.5 km west of St Helena Bay and approximately 180 km north of Cape Town. The proposed study area is situated within the West Coast District Municipality (WCDM) and the Saldanha Bay Local Municipality (SBLM).
The project will entail a one (1) year non-invasive geophysical survey period (Phase 1), a three (3) year invasive drilling period (Phase 2 and Phase 3) and a further 1 year non-invasive resource determination period (Phase 4). Phase 2 which will continue for one (1) year, will consist of the drilling of forty-nine (49) drill holes, each between 5 and 25 metres (m) deep and approximately 82 mm in diameter. This will cover a total area of approximately 0.26 m2. Phase 3, where similar drilling will continue for a further two (2) years, will consist of an additional eighty-nine (89) drill holes covering a total area of approximately 0.47 m2. A further twelve (12) months (Phase 4) will consist of non-invasive prospecting in the form of data validation, geological modelling, resource estimation and pre-feasibility studies. The authorisation will be required for the duration of the prospecting right which is a total of three (5) years.
Published: 08 July 2022
Review Period: 08 July to 08 August 2022
Hoek praised the community’s informed and passionate opposition to irresponsible, profitable developments that threaten the region’s unique ecology and said he had no idea how sensitive and burdened the area already was until he scoped it out himself.
Hoek also admitted the health dangers and impact of mining and transporting radioactive minerals in such close proximity to fast-growing coastal towns and said it would be “irresponsible” and unethical. He referred to the cumulative principle of considering ALL the impacts, as well as the European Equator principle of responsible development to which he ascribes.
He warned against profit-seeking “fly-by-night” developers who are sure to pursue mining rights here and gave the assurance that he has no intention or inclination of getting involved in developments that cause irreparable environmental damage or go against the grain of an entire community.
“I took the decision to withdraw all applications myself as the sole director of K2017432278 (SA) (Pty) Ltd after speaking to affected parties and visiting the area myself. It was a logical decision and I immediately informed my shareholders, who all agreed to it.”
Hoek also urged local residents to implore the local municipal and provincial authorities to have the specific region declared a limited development area or even a protected area (Bewarea) to help preserve its unique and sensitive ecology against future profit-driven applicants. “It won’t stop future developers from pursuing mining rights, but it will definitely make it harder to succeed.”
“I was shocked to witness the environmental and socioeconomic impact of existing developments – especially the windfarm – and realised an additional mine would cause irreparable damage”, he said.
- If a handful of dedicated and passionate West Coast residents/land owners could stop a potential mining disaster in its tracks, it proves that people STILL have the power to determine what happens to them and their environment IF they courageously, committedly and well-informed stand together.
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