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Raise your hand if you love the Transkei

I do. What’s not to love?

Stunning scenery with a splash of the unspoilt about it, fabulous swimming beaches, friendly people, cows, more cows, and a taste of South Africa that doesn’t taste like anywhere else in the country.

What I don’t love about the Transkei is that it’s about to be ruined. Pretty conclusively ruined.

Despite numerous complaints, the SA Department of Minerals and Energy has given an Australian mining company permission to mine the Transkei coastline. Environmental groups are lobbying to have the Wild Coast listed as a world heritage site, but time is running out, fast.

Apparently the kind of mining they’ll be doing is called “Open Cast” mining — one of the most destructive forms of mining for the environment. The Wild Coast is so beautifully untouched and pristine, but not for long if this goes through.

One of the arguments on the mining side is that the whole thing will provide extra work for the locals, but as it turns out the techniques they’re using need mostly skilled and technical labour that will have to be imported into the area. And all the profits will be exported.

Do you care? I hope so. If you do, please sign this online petition. It won’t take more than 20 seconds (I promise, I’ve done it!) and it might just help.

One of my favourite things is when people stop whining and start doing. Let’s lend them a hand.



  1. Lynne Lynne 12 September 2008

    Thank you Bridget for bringing this to everyone’s attention. Having lived in remote areas where new mining ventures have “arrived” let me tell you what will happen: Yes, there will be jobs on offer. People from all over the country will stream into the area to try and take advantage of whatever is on offer. A shanty city will rise up with all the attendant social ills: alcohol peddling, prostitution, drugs, etc. Not only will the Xolobeni people (and all South Africans) lose a magnificent heritage, they will lose their villages, ANY control over their environment, and any control over their social environment. But rejoice! If it is successful, an Australian mining company will be saved from financial ruin (this is their last hope) and MANY government fatcats will get fatter. And what have we lost? A strip of coast…don’t we have many more, after all??

  2. Paddy II Paddy II 12 September 2008

    The Transkei is my favourite place in the whole world… signing the petition now.

  3. Robert Branch Robert Branch 12 September 2008

    Thank you Bridget.

    Wading through all this Zuma Shapiro cartoon debate, and here you are, highlighting the true impending rape before us.

    The rape of our beloved coastline, by an Australian mining giant, South Africa’s glorious natural heritage, the remaining coastal dune forests of the Transkei, flayed and destroyed forever.

    It sickens me, as I have visited much of the coastline of Australia, and they dearly protect their coast. One cannot even drive a car down to so many of their beaches, NSW, Queensland, and Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. One has to park up more than 100 metres away and walk down through the paths. There are not even bins in these car parks as everybody takes their trash home.

    How on earth can we standby, as the ANC government
    condones this !

    Come on Thought Leaders and contributors, enough of the politics, lets together ensure our Wild Coast of the Transkei, is freed from its imminent fate.

  4. Sipho Sipho 12 September 2008

    Welcome to Africa Bridget

  5. Po Po 12 September 2008

    This mining breaks my heart, that beautiful coastline will never be the same.

  6. ama deadly ama deadly 12 September 2008

    sabotage all mineing activity. toyi toyi. burn the bulldozers. chain yourself to a mineing truck.inter alia amongst the best indegenous sativa marijuana areas left in the country untainted by the scourge of indica. mineing will annihlate this income generating cycle of life, enriching the few and disenfranchise the majority. stand up and revolt.the walk south from the w.c casino hotel to emboyti and beyond amongst the best visual feasts available. not yet destroyed. fight or lose it.

  7. Siphiwo Qangani with kangaroos Siphiwo Qangani with kangaroos 12 September 2008

    Bridget McNutty

    […]”One of the arguments on the mining side is that the whole thing will provide extra work for the locals, but as it turns out the techniques they’re using need mostly skilled and technical labour that will have to be imported into the area. And all the profits will be exported.”[…]

    Ok! Let say, we stick together & advance your petition…Are you going to provide EC citizens with alternative job opportunities as oppose to the mine?

    I do I agree with you, the citizens of Xolobeni or surrounding areas don’t possess enough skills befitting such mine, but to campaign for a stoppage of a development in the area, where there would be still individuals benefiting from such a venture, is tantamount to a hypocritical stance. You’re, every morning, having your slice of bread buttered on either side whilst the villagers become anxious with hunger when the sun arises.

    Don’t get me wrong, I also want to be ‘Green’ BUT I’d only complete the petition provided if you also put forward another petition for creation of employment or development in the same area.

    By the way, are they also going to import people providing businesses in the area, for example small vendors selling apples & bananas, airtimes, sausages, Nannies who’ll look after babies of the employees of the mine, car washers, cleaners and so forth?

    Eish! It makes me think twice..

  8. Jon Jon 13 September 2008

    Isn’t it a bit like insisting that the Kalahari bushmen be left in the Stone Age and not given any education or sophistication? After all, they’ve been that backward for thousands of years and, if they got themselves all suited and collared and degreed and KFC/McDonalded, they wouldn’t be running around skinny-naked in their loincloths with their bows and poison arrows for us to look at and marvel over?

    Underdevelopment is so quaint, charming and diverting for the developed.

  9. jay vincento jay vincento 13 September 2008

    Please excuse my abysmal ignorance – but I have searched google maps – but I have not been able to locate either the named beach – or the Transkei for that matter.

    I would sign the petition – but for what? There are many mining countries in Australia doing great environmental damaged.

    If someone can point me to the area – and I can see the environment to be damaged myself – then I will do all I can to involve my friends over here – after all every thinking world citizen has to support the world we have not what the multinationals want to destroy for instant gratification – to the detriment of our children and our children’s children – SO SOMEONE please show me!

  10. James Tobias James Tobias 13 September 2008

    Ahhhh the power of lethargy.

    Count me in.

  11. Jon Jon 13 September 2008

    The “Transkei” (or, more accurately the Transkei/Ciskei) forms most of the coastline of the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, spanning the shores between the Great Fish River in the south-east and the Mzimkulu river on the southern border of Kwazulu-Natal.

    The midpoint of this region is the Great Kei River. South of it lies the Ciskei; north of it is the Transkei, stretching through and beyond Pondoland as far as the Mzimvubu River, which forms the border with the Kwazulu-Natal.

  12. pete ess pete ess 13 September 2008

    Another thing: These disgusting Aussies and their Saffer henchmen will not be beneficiating the sand there. They’ll be trucking it all the way to Richards Bay, spilling dust, noise and pollution en route.

    As for alternative sources of income for the area: When the forces of evil are agin it, they’ll make sure nothing happens. Sad, sad, sad. And wicked.

  13. Vuyo Vuyo 13 September 2008

    I am a child of the Transkei and I know first hand the only way to escape the poverty that stalks that part of the country is through a solid,tight ass education. Mining in whatever form will never benefit you unless you are the mine owner/manager or a politician who has received a nice bribe. The ANC/Minerals and Energy ministry are just cruelly exploiting the illeteracy and gullability of the Xolobeni people, promising them jobs but by the time these people realise that this mine will be of no use to them it will be too late. The politicians have their nice kick backs, Australians are getting richer can’t belive their luck on such cheap, exploitable labour. Mining has been around South Africa for decades and I don’t know of a single labourer who can claim to have gotten rich from that. This is more than just about Enviromentalists vs Mining giants and the poor locals are caught in the middle, clueless and hungry, the sad thing is they lose which ever side wins. No mining = pristine coastline for white people to come and have their holidays, hand you their left overs when they return to their mansions. Mining = promise for jobs that will never materialise, you will be spectators in your own back yard while this company brings it’s own workforce and the big mine bosses will employ you as nanies for their brats. Pverty is a vicious cycle, welcome to the real South Africa.

  14. jeff jeff 14 September 2008

    Thank you for publicizing the issue, Bridget.

    @Jay, instead of trying to locate one of the most out-of-the-way places on Earth on Google Maps, just do a simple lookup on Something along the lines of: xolobeni wild coast.

    2 anti-mining sites should appear prominently: (independent tourism website which I operate) and (Sustaining the Wild Coast, a registered non-profit organization).

    @Sipho, the short term (25 years) employment comes at the cost of permanently destroying hundreds of potential jobs in the eco-tourism sector over the coming MILLENIA. The damage is irreversible, and we’ve already witnessed the withdrawal of tourism ventures because of the threat of mining. No amount of financial justification or name calling is going to change the fact that this is environmental RAPE and a violation of our constitutional rights; and not just the land rights of the residents who are opposed to the expropriation of their land.

    A few reasons why the mining should not be allowed to proceed:

    1. The strip mining method which is planned to be used is Dry Mining. This will entail a huge dust fallout which will affect all residents in the area (plant, animal and human… and especially the breeding river estuarines). Furthermore the Wet Separation Plant (WSP) which is then used to separate the Heavy Mineral Concentrate (HMC) requires 2 MILLION liters of water per hour, 24 hours a day… which will affect the water table of this fragile biosphere HUGELY.

    2. As the mine falls within the Pondoland Center of Endemism (PCE) -an internationally recognised Biodiversity Hotspot – the damage it will do can never be repaired. There are about 2000 identified species within the 18,800 hectare PCE. 196 (so far) identified species are endemic to the area . . . dozens of which fall into the red data (endangered species) list… and several of them are only found in this particular area and are unable to grow anywhere else on Earth.

    3. Whilst being one of the poorest regions in SA, the actual residents of the area are totally against it – and the mining interests have bribed the directors of the sustainable eco-tourism venture, Amadiba Tours, to sabotage the tourism developments there – which has resulted in many lost jobs and the EU pulling out an R84 million sponsorship for sustainable development. (All the Transkei hiking trail huts have been burned down. The community craft center at Mzamba has been burned down. Development contracts at Mkambati that were tendered and won in 2003 were not signed by the directors of ACCODA/Amadiba… to purposely undermine sustainable eco-tourism… and resulting in more loss of jobs and millions in sustainable eco-tourism investments pulling out.

    4. The mining will occur within the ancient sand dunes which contain fossils dating back to the Middle and Upper Pleistocene age (Johnson, 1991 cited in Nicholson, 1997).

    5. The 350 jobs (and that number seems somewhat overstated) that will be created over the 20 year lifetime of the mine will not be allocated to the people from the local community as they are predominantly illiterate and under-qualified.

    6. The looming threat of other potential areas being mined will ensure that tourism investment will forever be lost to that region.

    7. The mining will also bring an influx of people and crime to this fragile biosphere… and they will be destroying the forests for firewood and generally ruining a pristine paradise.

    8. Our constitution enshrines our rights to an environment that is healthy – and sustainable development over short term RAPE of our environment… And the majority of people who live in the affected area are totally 100% against the mining, and are in favor of eco-tourism and sustainable agricultural development.

    9. Mostly though, the rights and wishes of the local community have been totally overridden. The BEE component of the venture (Xolco) excludes them completely, and is made up entirely of fatcats from outside the area. The residents are being given nothing in return for the decimation of their ancestral grounds and children’s heritage… apart from lip-service and platitudes about electricity, roads and upgraded schools.

    10. As important as those things are, they could equally well come from sustainable development projects.

    11. The environmental and sociological impacts of mining are irreversible.

    12. The local residents have threatened to revolt, like the Pondo Uprising of 1960, if the government gives away their land and heritage.

    13. Nearby residents to strip mining operations are warned they should take care to use a wet mop and damp cloth, rather than a broom and duster… to avoid excessive dust inhalation. How the Hell do you do that in a mud hut?

    14. The associated environmental impacts like damming, channeling & on-site storage of local water supplies, up grading of existing roads, removal of vegetation, sewage facilities, have not been sufficiently dealt with in the EIA, and other aspects such as electricity supply are deemed by GCS as not pertinent to the operations of the mining, whereas they are in fact integral. The electricity supply to the area which is being done by Eskom calls for 2 x 132 kV lines to be run to the area: 1 within the KZN province directly to Port Edward, and the other via Bizana, to the proximity of the Northern border of the Xolobeni tenement. This is significant if one considers that presently the entire South Coast and Northern EC region is fed off a single 68 kV power line.

    To quote from Murray Mcgregors preliminary comments to the EIA: “There are however other potential impacts associated with the proposed operations such as those pertaining to sources of power, additional roads and others. The linear nature of the proposed mining operations will, based on past experience potentially lead to associated “general linear development” who’s longevity will no doubt far exceed the life of the mining operation/s and hence lead to potentially long term associated impacts within the sub-region.”

  15. Robert Branch Robert Branch 15 September 2008

    Thank you Jeff for the insight and detail provided,
    Would you please re-insert the
    URL for the eloquent article by Richard Spoor and John GI Clarke as your last link seems to be broken and we would read further.

    This contribution by Sinegugu found on the SWC site gives some idea of who really stands to benefit.

    Siyathemba Magogotyane

    i am a geology student and think that tha wild caost should be mined for the bennefit of the community as it will gain skille and obs to provide for their famalies.


    Dear Siyamthemba

    Let us look at a bigger picture here. I’m one of the
    many local people who are opposed to mining the Wild Coast. Ndikhulele
    kulandawo kuthiwa izombiwa, yaye ndiyayiqonda indlala esinayo kwilali
    zethu. Kunjalo ndithi mining is not an option. WHY?

    The mining in its present format is not going to benefit the people of
    Xolobeni. There is the so called XOLCO a BEE company that is
    theoretically said to represent the people of XOLOBENI. The people of
    XOLOBENi are being offered 26% shares in the venture, for which they are
    required to pay about R120 milion. because people of Xolobeni do not have
    the money to pay for shares the mining company is offering them a loan.
    The lifetime of the mine is 22 years. During the first ten years the BEE
    company will not be making any income, because they will be using all
    their income to pay back the loan. Then on the 11th year they will start
    seeing some benefits. Is this ok by your terms? people will be losing
    grazing land and cropland and water on thier land, but re required to pay
    for mining of their own land. Is this fair trade? Why should Xolobeni
    people pay people to mine their land? The total income to be generated by
    the mine is R11 billion. The total local income by the BEE comapany will
    be about R500 million. the government will make about R4 billion in tax.
    is this benefiting local people.

    As for skills you area talking about; the mining process as you might
    know as a geologist is highly mechanised and would require educated
    people. At Xolobeni only 0.02 people have matric. there is even truck
    drivers to deliver the minerals to the smelter. it is therefore very clear
    that there will be less than 100 local people employed as security guards
    or what? The engineers will be coming from outside. what skills are you
    talking about?

    It is great that local people are opposed to mining. I would support any
    development that would benefit the local people directly.



  16. Sol Sol 16 September 2008

    Where is Transkei…? Did it not die with the old regime?

  17. Robert Branch Robert Branch 18 September 2008

    Thank you Jeff, the example therein of us mining Uluru just leaves me tearful and shaking my head in disbelief, that we as South Africans have indeed let it all get so far.

    I have often walked these beautiful coastal hills barefoot with schoolmates and my family. In the last ten years of travel and recently in the last four years at sea visiting the coastlines of the world, this our Wild Coast is, without reserve the most gorgeous of them all.

    The Australian MRC mining company must be stopped, I will be there and will be arrested or shot should the machines still arrive and begin to flay this, our beloved Wild Coast.

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