An application has been filed for a Water Use License for Keysource Minerals by AGPSA (previously known as Consol) to mine silica sand in the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA). The licensing authority is the National Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.
Keysource Minerals mine lifespan is expected to be 25 years. Keysource will extract silica sand by removing the topsoil digging to a depth of 20 meters into the aquifer. The mine will use the aquifer water to clean the silica sand.
When the digging is done all that will be left is a massive hole filled with a toxic soup of water, and a wound that will not be healed or rehabilitated – see Edith Stevens Park for reference which the CoCT calls a ‘conservation area’ and ‘environmental education centre,’ but which is actually a wetland graveyard.
It is a graveyard because Wetland bird species need graduated, shallow wetlands, and cannot function in an arena of extremely deep and steep-edged water bodies.
The Consol mine will destroy 50ha and may mine up to a further 250ha. Part of the land includes four wetlands that recharge the aquifer in winter months. The land is farmed in summer. The land will be lost to food production forever now and for future generations. Farming operations around the mine will cease causing the further loss of local food production, farming jobs and livelihoods.
In context of climate change, deleting drought-proof farmland is highly irresponsible. Twelve studies show the value of the PHA as unique and irreplaceable. We can’t eat glass. Mining the land is a direct violation of our right to access to sufficient food and water ito section 27 (b) of South African constitution and the negation of the CoCT climate change and resilience strategies to achieve a carbon neutral city by 2050.
Noise pollution, dust pollution, heavy vehicles used by the mine will obstruct the existing traffic and farmers operations. The mine will impact negatively on the living conditions of farmworkers and farmers in the area surrounding the proposed mine. The proposed mining area is part of a 1km square area with reported sighting of 98 bird species with the predominance of flamingos and other water birds. This area is connected to Zeekoevlei, Rondevlei and the greater False Bay conservation area.
Bird life will disappear due to the mining activity, the dust, the noise, the traffic, the big hole filled with toxic water. Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 provides that everyone has the right to an environment that is not detrimental to his or her health or well-being. There are two communities of labour tenants living on the border of the mine – over 100 families.
The mine would be seen from Strandfontein Road near the vicinity of Makro and along Old Ottery and Springfield roads. This is in everyone’s backyard in the Cape Flats and not only of the farms. The mine will destroy a historic and cultural landscape that has been feeding the city for over 150 years.
Heritage Western Cape in denying a 100ha housing development in the PHA foodlands in 2016, ruled the landscape is of heritage importance because of the farming and its relationship with the aquifer. Those living in the PHA just love the landscape they work and live in. Those of who drive through the PHA love the view of the farms and the seasonal crops grown. These crops also provide food to many on a daily basis. This will all be lost forever.
The public participation process seems to have already ended, according to Umvoto Africa, the MAR consultants for the CoCT.
The applicant claims it will have no negative impact on the aquifer since the water is already of a poor quality. But it fails to acknowledge one of the key MAR project objectives: that is to improve water quality in the aquifer where it’s needed.
Unknown impacts of the mining activity:
- The carbon emissions of the mining activity throughout its lifespan and impact on climate change.
- The carbon emissions of the products produced as well as the waste generated by the same products and its impact on climate change.
The precautionary principle should apply.
The PHA Campaign is officially saying ‘no’ to mining the PHA foodlands, and ‘yes’ to food security and climate resilience.
Read more about sand mining: