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Wild Coast activists question Australian sale of company

Jul 19 2016 08:07
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – The mining of titanium from the Wild Coast sand dunes will not be accepted under any circumstances, activists said on Monday.

This followed a statement by Australian-owned MRC that it has agreed to sell its 56% interest in Transworld Energy and Resources (TEM) – the owners of the Xolobeni Project – to its black economic empowerment partner Keysha Investments.

This comes after a 13 year battle to get regulatory approval to mine the pristine natural coastline, a move most community members do not want.

MRC said the project should be managed by local stakeholders.

“In light of the ongoing violence and threats to the peace and harmony of the local Xolobeni community, the company accepts the future viability of the Xolobeni Project should be managed by stakeholders and organisations exclusively owned by South African people,” MRC said in a statement to shareholders in Australia on Monday.

It said the sale is subject to commercial negotiations, agreement with the remaining shareholder, and any regulatory or shareholder approvals.

The local Amadiba Crisis Committee, which has endured attacks and the assassination of its leader this year - Bazooka Radebe - did not appear in a celebratory mood on hearing that its Australian foe Mark Caruso was signing off from the project.

“The Xolobeni Project should not be sold to anyone,” it said in a statement on Monday. “It is a worth-less project and must be closed.

“Instead we fear: state funds are now about to be used to fill the coffers of the corrupt and violent MRC. And the same people remain in the shadows.”

The Amadiba Crisis Committee’s legal team, the Legal Resources Centre – said the Xolobeni Project and Keysha were established by MRC to advance its mining interests.

“They clearly were not established by the community itself, and were established with minimal community consultation,” it said.

“Indeed, our clients’ view is that mining will not be accepted under any circumstances, much less the uncertain terms reflected in MRC’s announcement.”

It said the community’s objection to the mining right application highlighted various defects in MRC’s mining right application.

“Fundamentally, the objection noted that MRC had failed to seek the consent of the community in terms of its customary law, and that no mining right application should be granted without such consent being given,” it said.

“Despite the community’s opposition to the Xolobeni project, MRC has been granted repeated extensions by the Department of Mineral Resources to file crucial environmental documents, without any reference to the community, when its application stood to be dismissed outright.”

It said the Xolobeni community learnt of the MRC’s latest decision from the Australian Securities Exchange and was not consulted about the decision.

“It is unclear whether the Department of Mineral Resources has played a role in facilitating this transaction, or if any public financing through the Industrial Development Corporation or any other entity is involved.

“It is manifestly unclear how this transaction will be funded, and what compensation Keysha will be obliged to pay to MRC and/or its subsidiaries in return for MRC’s interest in the Xolobeni project.

“We strenuously object to the process, in terms of which this decision has been taken without our clients’ participation, much less consent. We have accordingly written to MRC and its attorneys seeking a copy of the MoU (a Memorandum of Understanding) on behalf of our clients.”

mrc  |  amadiba  |  xolobeni
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