Breakthrough on the west coast: environmental activists and mining companies agree – Low Calorie Diets Tips

  • Australian company Mineral Sands Resources (MSR) has agreed to take action to improve the environmental impact of its West Coast operations.
  • MSR must also persuade the Minister of the Environment to commission an environmental assessment of the impact of mining in the region.
  • The Center for Environmental Rights is optimistic but says it hasn’t given up on a judicial review motion against the Environment Secretary and the Department of Natural Resources.

For the first time, the cumulative impacts of expanding mining, prospecting and oil and gas exploration, both onshore and offshore along the west coast, can be subject to scrutiny by independent environmental experts.

This was preceded by protracted negotiations, which at least temporarily prevented what could have been a painful and expensive legal process. The environmental justice advocacy group, the Center for Environmental Rights (CER), was set to take over national government agencies and mining company Mineral Sands Resources (MSR) for expanded West Coast operations.

But in relation to a negotiated and court-ordered settlement, the Australian-owned MSR, which operates the Tormin mine near Lutzville, will agree to comprehensive environmental plans to manage its future mining operations and will ask Environment Secretary Barbara Creecy to conduct an independent Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SUP) for the region.

An SEA is similar to an Environmental Impact Assessment but assesses potential cumulative impacts of development on a regional basis to inform planning and policy rather than just assessing individual projects.

For several years, environmentalists have campaigned for Creecy’s department to commission a West Coast SEA.

lawsuit in court

In early 2019, the Department of Natural Resources and Energy (DMR) controversially granted MSR an Integrated Environmental Permit for a huge expansion of its West Coast Tormin operations.

The permit allowed the Company to add an additional 188 hectares to its existing 120-hectare mineral sands operation along 42 km of coastline with 10 West Coast beaches.

The Company has also received approval to expand mining operations inland into an ecological corridor and designated area of ​​critical biodiversity.

CER appealed the approval and requested that the approval be suspended pending the completion of its appeal.

However, the DMR has not decided on the appeal or the application for suspension.

Therefore, in early 2020, the CER appealed to the Secretary of the Environment, who has the legal authority to grant the appeal and block the environmental permit for the Tormin mine expansion. But Creecy dismissed the group’s appeal.

CER then filed a motion for judicial review against both DMR and Creecy, also naming MSR as a defendant. The case should have started in March this year, but before it started, the parties agreed to negotiate.

agreement reached

After lengthy discussions, it was agreed that legal action would be suspended if MSR agreed to implement various environmental protection and planning measures. This was ordered by a court.

“The main consideration for us was that even a court victory would not have ensured a cessation of mining by MSR in the immediate or near future, nor additional steps by MSR to prevent further damage to biodiversity as a result of its mining,” explained CER Counsel Zahra Omar.

There is increasing concern about the cumulative impacts of mining on biodiversity and livelihoods on the West Coast.

“The entire region is under tremendous pressure from both onshore and offshore exploration, prospecting and mining, while bearing the impact of historic and ongoing mining,” said Omar.

“Discussions between MSR, various Departments of State and CER provided an opportunity to escalate the issue and accelerate action to mitigate this regional impact.”

The agreement does not prevent MSR from mining in its expanded territory. However, the mining company must follow the NEMA (National Environmental Management Act) environmental permitting process and conduct a meaningful public participation process for any future requests to expand its operations under Section 102 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA). .

MSR must also conduct a meaningful public engagement process on the content of its social and labor plan, a legal requirement for mining companies.

MSR must provide Creecy’s Department with justification for conducting a full West Coast SEA by July 13. The SUP would be commissioned and paid for by the department.

MSR is also required to prepare and submit a biodiversity management plan for its extended mining operations. The plan must include “no-go areas” and “set-aside” areas for conservation.

“These areas will be identified and prioritized according to actual on-site sensitivity with the support of specialist ecologists/botanists, taking into account the 2017 Western Cape Biodiversity Spatial Plan, and the areas should make a meaningful contribution to the overall network of ecological corridors,” the court order said.

MSR is responsible for the costs of developing, securing, maintaining and expanding the ecosystem on land it owns or controls, subject to the approved Biodiversity Management Plan.

Omar said the CER is “cautiously optimistic” but the success of the order will “obviously” depend on compliance with the MSR “which will be closely monitored by the CER”.

“It is important to note that CER has not withdrawn its request for judicial review. The application is only suspended in relation to the order. We have the right to drop the matter if MSR fails to comply with the terms of the order,” Omar said.

She said the response from the national environment minister and the DMR had been “disappointing”. The DMR had not participated in the discussions and while Creecy’s legal representatives had attended, the Minister had stated that she was only bound by the court order to the extent that she was legally required to respond to the submission of a Biodiversity Management Plan by MSR or motivation for a strategic environmental assessment.

MSR did not respond to our request for comment.

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