Park Forum slams DMR for unbridled mining activities

THABAZIMBI – In a strongly worded letter to the provincial Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) the Marakele Park Forum has objected to the unbridled issuing of prospecting and mining licences around Thabazimbi without heeding any of the spatial development schemes and objections of stakeholders.

This follows after notices were received that Afropulse and Manngwe Mining have applied for prospecting rights on approximately 20 properties in the Thabazimbi district during May. Some of these include highly sensitive areas around the Kransberg Mountains and adjacent to the Marakele National Park. Many of these occur in areas earmarked as ecologically sensitive and zoned for low key future developments. They fall in the greater Waterberg Biosphere Reserve which is currently being established. The applicant is prospecting for iron and manganese ore.

The farms which have been targeted are Buffelspoort, Doornkloof, Assen, Brakvallei, Spitskop, Doornhoek, Kwaggashoek, Klipgat, Kwaggasvlakte, Groenfontein, Rietfontein, Kliprivier, Rhenostersfontein, Groothoek, Klipspruit, Rhenosterpoort, Leeuwbosch, Witfontein, Kwaggashoek and Hannover.
All comments should have been submitted by 11 June to Mr. Raselabe Rudzani Quentin. His contact telephone numbers are 012 346 2971 or 078 586 5047 and his e-mail address is info@manngwe.co.za. Anyone who is affected by these applications should register as an Interested and Affected Party. Comments can also be submitted to the Department of Mineral Resources, Private Bag X 9467, Polokwane, 0700.

According to the Marakele Park Forum the most palpable threat currently to the eco-industry in the vicinity of the Marakele National Park and the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, is the pending Aquila Steel mining right application on Meletse Mountain. Should a mine be established so close to the park, the ambience of the whole region will be destroyed, the local eco-economy threatened or destroyed, the sacred caves (found at Meletse) threatened or destroyed, and the whole community left poorer than ever before.

In its letter to the DMR the Park Forum takes a view that not only is the unchecked issuing of prospecting and mining rights diametrically opposed to governmental directives to classify areas in terms of usage and planned usage, but it is also a huge financial threat to certain parties, who have invested heavily in the eco-industry with cognisance of these spatial development frameworks.

It accuses the DMR of ignoring the tremendous efforts by officials from other government departments (like Environment Affairs and Agriculture), semistatal institutions like SANParks, private individuals and local communities who participated in establishing a long term land-use programme.
Currently draft legislation is circulated for comment in which it is proposed that areas around national parks receive special protection and be established as buffer zones. It would mean that all new developments which might threaten the ecological integrity of national parks not be allowed. Most types of mining activities would typically be considered as harmful to the environment and not be allowed in a certain area around Marakele National Park, for example.

Dr Wilhelm Schack, chairman of the Marakele Park Forum, has requested the matter be taken very seriously by the people of Thabazimbi. “We cannot allow haphazard juggling with the future of our children, the future of our industry and the future of our land”, he said.

Hennie Pauw