Update: Tensions rise over proposed titanium mine

Posted by Laura Grant on September 5, 2008
Posted in Conservation

Calls have been made for urgent intervention to prevent violent conflict in the Xolobeni area of the Wild Coast, where a licence has been granted to an Australian company to mine the dunes for titanium. [IOL]

The Daily Dispatch reported this week that the death of 71-year-old village headman Zokhale Mngcwabe may be linked to the fact that he was a supporter of the proposed mining project. IOL also reported that last week angry villagers “advised” an environmental consulting firm commissioned to do research by MRC, the Australian mining company, to leave the area. A spokesman for the consulting firm reportedly said that “tensions were high in the area”. Last month Amadiba Chief Ndabazakshe Baleni was assaulted on his way home from a meeting about the proposed mining [Herald Online, Daily Dispatch].

The police head of crime prevention in the area, Superintendent Herbert Mbana, was reported as saying that the rising tensions required a visible police presence and daily police patrols.

The Pondo King Mpondombini Sigcau reportedly said that forcing the mining project through without the consent of the local people would be “nothing less than invasion” of their land. He added that the Xolobeni community‘s opposition to the mining project had been repeatedly confirmed. [Herald Online]

A Human Rights Commission spokesman told the Daily Dispatch that the commission was still investigating complaints it had received from villagers in the Xolobeni area.

In an opinion piece in the East London-based Daily Dispatch newspaper described the Xolobeni mining project as “more of a folly with every passing day”.

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