The Elandsfontein aquifer is a cornerstone of the economy and biodiversity of the West Coast Biosphere and it is under threat.
A mining licence has been granted that will allow the mining company Elandsfontein Exploration and Mining to strip-mine the aquifer for phosphate. Strip-mining is known as an “environmental wrecker” and leaves a trail of ecological destruction in its wake – from acid water to uranium, cadmium and arsenic leaching into groundwater, as well as toxic slime, sludge and tailings.
Shockingly, this mining application was granted by the Department of Mineral Resources without an Environmental Impact Assessment, a Water Use License, Environmental Authorisation or an Air Emissions license. Such assessments would almost certainly have shown that the impact of mining in Elandsfontein would be environmentally disastrous for this critically important aquifer and the areas around it, including Langebaan Lagoon.
We need your support to protect Elandsfontein and the West Coast Biosphere from this illegal and corrupt assault!
We are taking the Department of Mineral Resources and the mining company to the High Court to challenge the mining right and have the licence put under review and we need YOU!
We need your financial support to help us continue this fight in the courts – our case is extremely strong and with your help we can stop the mining.
We have appointed a specialist environmental law firm, Cullinan & Associates, who have years of experience in challenging the legality of administrative decisions. They believe this case has good prospects of success and have said:
“We are pleased to provide legal assistance to the West Coast Environmental Protection Association in challenging the legality of decisions by the Department of Mineral Resources and ensuring both the DMR and Elandsfontein Exploration and Mining act in accordance with the law. We are concerned that, once again, it seems that due process was not followed in the granting of a mining right.
“The evidence shows that the decisions by the DMR which are being challenged are unlawful and that EEM does not have the proper authorisations for mining to commence. We are of the view that when this case comes before the Western Cape High Court, there is a very good chance that the existing authorisations will be put aside.”
By supporting us you will be helping us to defend the livelihoods of thousands of people who depend on farming, fishing and the tourism industry.
You will be helping us to protect an ecologically precious resource that supports over 450 species of birds, endemic vegetation and an incredible sensitive groundwater system that supports the health of the Langebaan Lagoon.
Learn more about Elandsfontein, the mining and why it's so important that we put a stop to it, here.
Why Elandsfontein is so precious
Elandsfontein falls within the heart of the West Coast National Park. It was signed into an international treaty to be incorporated as part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Park Expansion Plan and forms part of the Core area of the UNESCO Cape West Coast Biosphere and identified National Park Buffer Zone. The Water Research Commission has labelled it as an “Aquifer Dependant Lagoon” and Department of Water Affairs have classified the aquifer as “Highly vulnerable and susceptible to anthropogenic disturbance and pollution”. Provincial government has recognised this area as a climate adaptive corridor, where the area is large enough to buffer impacts of climate change and has also been classified as a Critical Biodiversity Area.
What we can expect from strip-mining at Elandsfontein
A phosphate strip mining venture is now being executed within the heart of the aquifer without many of the essential licenses in place. Strip mining will consist remove the top aquifer, processing the ore with acids and placing the processed soils back into the strips as well as the slimes. Processed ore will dislodge toxic minerals which have been safely fixed through natural processes that may leach into the groundwater. Strip mining will destroy the natural function of this ancient aquifer system and could cause a considerable drop in the groundwater levels (up to 26m) on which the Langebaan Lagoon, various endemic pants and the local economy is dependent.
The Elandsfontein strip mine is in:
• a 10-million-year old aquifer, which is a critical groundwater source within a 30 km radius,
• a Core 1 area of a UNESCO Biosphere,
• an internationally significant heritage area, described as an “Origin of Man” site,
• a Critical Biodiversity Area,
• a Buffer zone of the West Coast National Park and
• a climate adaptive corridor,
• an area that is signed into an international Convention on Biological Diversity treaty (South Africa is a signed partner) as part of the Park Expansion Plan Program,
• a priority climate change adaptation corridor where they will be mining on endangered vegetation with 16 Red Data species,
• a most vulnerable municipality with regards to climate change,
• a planned protected area,
• a groundwater catchment area, and
• an inter-regional biodiversity corridor