Xolobeni and the Environment

Sustainability and the environment are fundamentally important to Mineral Commodities.

The Company believes that it’s possible for responsible mining development to co-exist with environmental, social, and cultural purviews and this is what results in sustainable economic development.

Before operational strategies are conceived, the full scale environmental impacts must be known. Mineral Commodities believe we must first fully understand any potential environmental impacts that mining might have on the areas we lease. In order to become fully informed of such impacts, we must engage an independent environmental consultant to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The EIA forms an important part of the Company’s Mining Right Application, and is a critical piece of information for the local community. Access to the EIA results in informed, educated and empowered local residents, as it provides them with a complete picture needed when making decisions on the merits of the proposed project going forward. Blocking this site access ultimately results in robbing the local residents of their right to make informed decisions on their future, and the future of generations to come.

There are proper due processes, such as that of an EIA, allow a balanced assessment of not only all environmental and social aspects considered, but also to engage all interested and affected parties and record and process all comments and concerns made in any application. The Company is currently following all the relevant regulatory steps in it’s application.

Xolobeni EIA Status

A Mining Right Application was made in March 2015, which was followed by the commencement of a full EIA in June 2015. However, violence and intimidation prevented our independent consultants from accessing the area, and to date the Company has not been able to move forward with the important environmental assessment.

However, the Company has conducted exhaustive specialist studies and stakeholder engagement reports conducted as part of the historical and current EIA process. To find out more about community engagement in Xolobeni click here.

Proposed Mining Area

The proposed tenement area at Xolobeni is approximately 22 kilometers long and roughly 1.5 kilometers wide and covers some 2800 hectares. The project mining resource area encompasses five distinct areas, the: Mtentu, Sikombe, Kwanyana, Mnyameni, and Mpahlane.

It is estimated that only 885 hectares of land (32% of tenement) in total will be disturbed  by the construction and operation of the new mine, and its associated infrastructure. However, it is important to note that most of the mining occurs on the Kwanyana block which is 300 hectares in size and only an average of 38 hectares will be disturbed per year, in an area, which has been environmentally degraded by over-farming and the removal of all vegetation. Of this secondary dunal system, if not rehabilitated, will ultimately continue to choke the river and estuary system as it erodes unabated.

The Company originally, and on a voluntarily basis, took significant steps to excise large parts of sensitive environmental estuarine areas as well as other environmentally and culturally sensitive locations, from the proposed mining area, in it’s Mining Right Application. This includes the primary frontal coastal dune system in its entirety, and addition of large buffer areas between the mining zones and the estuaries as well as the frontal dune system.

The Xolobeni mining lease area does not impeach pristine coastal dunes nor waterfalls.  Rather it deals with the mining of a denuded secondary sand dune system (see Figure 2 below) away from the coast, which is mobile and currently shows significant natural erosion.

xolobeni sand dune

The environmental degradation has been caused by over farming and removal of all vegetation. Of this secondary dunal system, if not rehabilitated, this will ultimately continue to choke the river and estuary system as it erodes unabated.

The rehabilitation of the land post mining will leave the land reshaped for arable farming use.

 

South Africa is emerging from a serious drought which has spotlighted our reliance on remaining clean freshwater sources.

The Company fully appreciated the significance of clean water to South Africa, especially that of rural communities such as Xolobeni.

Mineral Commodities planned to launch an initiative in February 2016 to address this situation for the residents of Xolobeni. The Company planned to undertake a water drilling programme in, which would have left 3 fully equipped boreholes with fresh drinkable water for the community.  Unfortunately, due to persisting threats of violence, we were prevented from doing this and rather than inflame the situation chose to stop the programme.

In addition, in terms of water usage, Mineral Commodities intention is to use dry mining techniques, which do not encompass dredging or require large amounts of water. Dry mining will allow a small spatial footprint to be open and progressively closed and rehabilitated as the mining path progresses. Saltwater will be used for its processing and in addition, desalination will also be used for the final processing of the product into finish ilmenite, zircon, rutile products.

Mineral Commodities remain committed to minimising environmental impacts, and maximising sustainability initiatives in all areas of our company operations.

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