“Halt the sale of De Beers operations until they fix our area”, says Cape West Coast community
The imminent sale of De Beers’ diamond mining operations on the Cape West Coast must be halted until full disclosure and proper consultation with all affected parties has taken place, says the community of Hondeklipbaai.
The department of Mineral Resources (DMR) is expected to make a decision on the approval of the amended environmental management programme, and the transfer of mining rights to Tranx Hex, within weeks. The community launched an awareness campaign this week, to urge DMR to postpone their decision.
Speaking at a media briefing in Cape Town, Hondeklipbaai community leader Dawid Markus said the sale cannot be allowed to continue until they were assured that the companies would honour their obligations to rehabilitate the area.
“We make an urgent call on the DMR to hold these companies to account and to not forget the communities that are directly affected. Too often big mining companies exploit the country’s natural resources without undoing the damage they cause,” said Markus.
He was speaking at the launch of two documentary videos in which the direct damage to the Hondeklipbaai area can be seen. The community is on the West Coast of South Africa, approximately 300 kilometres outside Cape Town.
Markus was supported by the Bench Mark Foundation at the briefing. Bench Mark Foundation earlier this year asked De Beers Consolidated Mines to make substantial revisions to the Environmental Management Programme Report which will become the only legal tool to prevent a lasting negative legacy from diamond mining in Namaqualand.
“The area in Hondeklipbaai is rich in biodiversity, with some species of plants and animals that are not see anywhere else in the world.
“This area must be protected and conserved, and we’re not convinced that the current plans will not leave the area exposed to more risks. Their budget for this kind of repair work is wholly inadequate, and it is the people of Hondeklipbaai that will end up paying for it, for generations to come,” said Markus.
Please watch the video and take action by writing to The Honourable Minister Susan Shabangu. (Details and template below. Please read it, copy it, sign your name and send.)
The Honourable Minister Susan Shabangu
Minister of Mineral Resources
Private Bag X646, PRETORIA 0001
Tel: 012 679 9103 Fax: 012 643 0930
Dear Minister Shabangu
Hold DeBeers Accountable for Legacy at Namaqualand Mine
I am writing to ask you to ensure that the Constitutional rights of the communities living around the De Beers Namaqualand Mine to a safe and healthy environment are upheld and that an equitable contribution to their livelihoods is provided in recognition of the 100 years of mining in the area. De Beers’ claim that the sale is part of their commitment to a “lasting contribution to the communities in which they live and work” is unsubstantiated given their lack of disclosure and meaningful engagement with key stakeholders in the process of selling the mine.
In the interest of establishing a just outcome in Namaqualand, setting a national precedent for mineral right transfers and local community interests, and a global statement about South Africa’s commitment to human rights and social development, I ask you to recognise the rights of those representing the environment, and the rights of the communities of Namaqualand to have a voice in the process of proposed amendment of the rehabilitation obligations and proposed transfer of mining rights. To this end, I ask you to ensure full disclosure by De Beers, the purchaser of the Namaqualand Mine and the Department of Mineral Resources, and ensure a proper opportunity for affected parties to give inputs.
I specifically ask that, in your consideration of DeBeers’ proposed amended Social and Labour Plan and proposed amended Environmental Management Programme, you will bear in mind the long-term sustainable development requirements in the region and ensure that an adequate plan and financial provision for implementing that plan are in place.