Internal Affairs

City appealing sand mining approval in Strandfontein

The City of Cape Town has lodged an appeal with the National Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, asking it to set aside the environmental authorisation, which will allow sand mining on two erven in Strandfontein.

The National Department of Mineral Resources and Energy recently granted a mining company environmental authorisation to do sand mining on portions of erven 21168 and 1212, 12ha in extent, in Strandfontein.

The authorisation was granted in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) and the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations.

‘The City is opposing this decision and we have submitted our appeal to the National Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment, the appeal authority. We are confident that there are sufficient grounds for setting aside the environmental authorisation. The sand mining will have a severe impact on our biodiversity and would result in the irreplaceable loss of the endemic Cape Flats Strandveld vegetation.

‘Also, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy did not consider how the surrounding communities will be affected by the sand mining activity, seeing that this information was not included in the Environmental Impact Assessment Report. Dust control, air quality, and the impact on traffic and the Cape Flats aquifer are but a few examples,’ said the City’s Deputy Mayor and Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Eddie Andrews.

The City’s appeal is based on the assertion that the environmental authorisation was founded on a flawed Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) that contains inaccurate and insufficient information about the impact sand mining will have on biodiversity, and the adverse impacts on the surrounding community and environment.

The City is appealing the Environmental Authorisation for the following reasons, among others:

• sand mining will result in the irreplaceable loss of endangered vegetation endemic to the Cape Flats

• the site is located in an ‘Irreplaceable Critical Biodiversity Area’

• it contains the endemic Cape Flats Dune Strandveld vegetation, which is classified as an endangered ecosystem

• this area is listed as ‘priority to be conserved’ in terms of the City’s Conservation Implementation Plan

• the total area of Cape Flats Dune Strandveld remaining in the metro-south east is less than 6 000ha, or less than 23% of the historic extent, which is lower than the national conservation target of 24% for the False Bay Subtype of Cape Flats Dune Strandveld

• given its significant importance, this area is considered inappropriate for development, and thus mining

• the sand mining proposal is not in alignment with the City’s approved spatial planning policy, namely the Cape Town Municipal Spatial Development Framework of 2018, and the District Spatial Development Framework for the Cape Flats

Furthermore, the flawed EIAR did not address the City’s concerns, namely:

• the dust management plan does not meet the prescribed requirements

• the absence of a required air quality impact assessment to determine the possible impact on people living in the area

• the impact the mining operations will have on traffic

• the absence of a required geohydrological assessment that addresses the potential impact on the Cape Flats Aquifer and associated Managed Aquifer Recharge Groundwater Scheme

Given that the above information was not included in the EIAR, the City asserts that the National Department of Mineral Resources and Energy was not in a position to make an informed decision, and that the appeal authority should set aside the environmental authorisation.

‘The City supports economic activity and welcomes investment in Cape Town. However, it is also our duty to ensure that due process is followed and that decisions are based on information that is comprehensive and accurate,’ said Alderman Andrews.

Source: City Of Cape Town