Plans to forge ahead with mining in the Xolobeni area on the Wild Coast were dealt a devastating blow this week after the community vowed not to allow any drilling on their land.
Australian mining company TEM – Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources (SA) – had planned to drill for underground water yesterday.
The drilling was to take about 10 days, according to TEM representative Zamile Madiba Qunya, but those plans were brought to an abrupt halt by more than 200 residents who occupied the area where the drilling was to take place.
When the Daily Dispatch arrived in Xolobeni yesterday, community members and other anti-mining activists were gathered at Khwanyana, where they had been preparing to lie on the ground to prevent the drilling.
Anti-mining activist Nontle Mbutuma said: “Our stand is that if they want to mine, they should kill us first, rather than kill us the way they are going to kill us by going ahead with the mining.”
Mbutuma said there were about 200 homesteads in the area and “all” of them would be relocated, including the graves.
“This mining is going to flatten all the hills and sand dunes.
“This will have devastating effects on the environment,” Mbutuma said.
Zwelidumile Yalo, who lives about 2km from the shoreline, said he was against the mining.
“I plant vegetables and mealies and sell them to my community and other areas. If we were to be moved from our homes, I would lose my business.”
Yalo said lies were being spread by those who supported the mining that the community was being influenced by well-to-do individuals who wanted to secure their seaside chalets.
“We were never told by anyone to block mining in this village. The government should rather give us funds for agriculture and promote tourism in the area instead,” Yalo said.
Qunya, who is a resident in Xolobeni, is the founder of Xolobeni Empowerment Company which has a 26% shareholding in TEM.
He said the drilling formed part of the environmental impact assessment and they had been given permission by the Department of Minerals Resources to proceed.
“We will only drill after we have spoken again with the leaders of the Xolobeni Crisis Committee.
“We do not want violence,” he said. — firstname.lastname@example.org