Protect The West Coast’s victory checks Trans Hex mining

The Olifants River estuary on the West Coast is now protected from diamond mining in terms of a legally binding settlement agreement. Photo: John Yeld/GroundUp.

The agreement reached is a major victory in the ongoing battle to hold mining companies to account.

Protect the West Coast (PTWC), a non-profit organisation (NPO), has won an out of court battle with diamond mining company, Trans Hex.

The matter which was set to be presented on the 29th of August before the Western Cape high court, reached an out of court settlement that prohibits Trans Hex from mining around the Olifants River estuary, including the shoreline and beach, and extends 500m offshore from the high tide mark.

“While this outcome is certainly a victory, it is just one small battle won in the ongoing war against inadequately regulated mining in the region. There is still much work to be done and the fight against unlawful mining on the West Coast is far from over,” said Mike Schlebach, PTWC’s managing director.

The applicants, PTWC, were supported by co-applicants from the small-scale fishing communities of Olifants River and Doringbaai, as well as individuals Preston Goliath and Fabian Mohammed. 

According to the PTWC statement, the original interdict was brought against Trans Hex for gaining permission to mine for a further 30 years based on an outdated environmental management programme (EMPr) from 2002. This programme ignores current environmental science, socioeconomic developments, and the value of the Olifants estuary as a mainstay for livelihoods in the area. “As part of the upgrade of the 21-year-old EMPr, Trans Hex must include certain specialist studies, consider cumulative impacts, include studies specifically considering small-scale fishers, and must engage with local communities. Trans Hex is also required to separately assess the impacts and mitigation measures for vessel, shore-based and beach mining,” reads the statement by PTWC.

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This agreement will assist in holding mining companies accountable so that they stay within the bounds of the law when mining in already a “severely socioeconomically challenged part of the country with an incredibly sensitive and biodiverse environment that is relied upon by the communities for their livelihoods”.

As an order of the court, the agreement is binding. Trans Hex can be held accountable should they fail to adhere to what has been agreed.

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