From the Orange River to Cape Columbine, hundreds of kilometres of the South Africa’s West Coast coastline are being mined, or have been earmarked for mining. These industrial-scale extractions have lasting consequences for local communities, fisheries and the natural environment, for generations to come.
South Africa’s West Coast is part of the Cape Floristic Region and inside the Fynbos biome, the West Coast is home to thousands of species of unique plants, most of which are found nowhere else in the world. UNESCO deemed the Cape Floristic Region Protected Areas World Heritage Sites including the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve and the Namaqua National Park. The whole area is a biodiversity hotspot with the largest concentration of succulent plants in the world.
Cold, nutrient rich waters upwelling along the West Coast fuel high rates of phytoplankton growth that sustain the highly productive Benguela ecosystem.
These interconnected ecosystems are a haven for marine life such as whales, dolphins, seals, fish, birds, land-mammals, reptiles, plant and unique insect and invertebrate habitats.
Despite the creation of short term jobs, mining adversely affects ecosystems and has a detrimental knock-on effect to the broader West Coast environment, economy and society. The risks associated with the projected mining activities are as follows:
Disturbance and destruction of marine life on mined beaches
Destabilisation of fisheries and fishing communities
Impacts on already scarce water resources
Air pollution from mining activities
Increased roads and traffic footprint
Visual impacts on local population and tourism
Loss of access to beaches and coastline for recreational activities such as surfing and fishing
Damage to the fragile dune system, which has evolved over millions of years as part of the natural interface between land and sea.
Alteration of the natural beach profile, and its dynamic equilibrium with the wave energy
Knock-on impacts on land-based ecosystems
Loss of archaeological resources and fossils
Loss of indigenous heritage sites