Richards Bay Minerals dune mining, South Africa

<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns"><div class="less">Mining of ilmenite, rutile and zircon from deposits in forested coastal sand dunes has been taking place since the mid 1970s, by Richards Bay Minerals (RBM), a subsidiary of Rio Tinto. </div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none"> After destroying the biodiversity-rich coastal dune forest, dredgers in giant ponds are used to extract sand that contains the mineral ores, then separated using centrifugal and magnetic processes. Minerals are trucked to the smelter, where they are processed into raw materials such as titanium dioxide and pig-iron for export to industrialised countries. <br/><br/> After mining, the remaining sand is dumped back, bulldozed to roughly resemble the original dune, and then crudely revegetated with mostly alien species not found in the original forests that were removed. <br/><br/> The dredging and separation process uses large amounts of fresh water pumped from rivers in the area. Together with the smelter, the mining also uses huge amounts of dirty energy generated from coal, consuming as much electricity as a medium-sized city. <br/><br/> Local people, that have been removed from their land, and endured the polluting emissions and dust from the mining, transportation and smelting on their doorsteps, remain poor despite the great wealth that has been extracted from their land by the mining company. <br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Richards Bay Minerals dune mining, South Africa</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/south-africa">South Africa</a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Province</td><td>KwaZulu-Natal</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Site</td><td>15Km north of Richards Bay </td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>MEDIUM regional level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Deforestation<br /> Mineral processing</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td>Ilmenite, Rutile And Zircon<br /><a href='/commodity/iron-ore'>Iron ore</a><br /><a href='/commodity/titanium-ores'>Titanium ores</a></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Details</td><td class="columns">Titania slag capacity is 1 Mt/year and pig iron production 550 000 t/year. Rutile output totals 100 000 t/year and zircon 250 000 t/year - in total, nearly 2 Mt/year of mineral output, 95% of it for export. <br/><br/></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Project Area (in hectares)</td><td>6,000 </td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Level of Investment (in USD)</td><td>Billions</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Semi-urban</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Potential Affected Population</td><td>Future generations</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>1980</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Company Names or State Enterprises</td><td><a href='/company/richards-bay-minerals'>Richards Bay Minerals <small>(RBM)</small></a> from <a href='/country-of-company/south-africa'><small>South Africa</small></a><br /><a href='/company/rio-tinto'>Rio Tinto <small>(Rio Tinto )</small></a> from <a href='/country-of-company/australia'><small>Australia</small></a> - <small> formerly Rio Tinto Zinc (RTZ)</small></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Relevant government actors</td><td>Department of Mineral Resources, Department of Trade and Industries, Department of Water Affairs, Department of Environment</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>groundWork (Friends of the Earth), Isolemvelo Community Environmental Group (ICEG), Timberwatch Coalition</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>In REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Informal workers<br /> Local ejos<br /> Neighbours/citizens/communities</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Development of a network/collective action<br /> Official complaint letters and petitions<br /> Street protest/marches<br /> Establishing a local watch-dog organisation to raise awareness among local communities. International pressure to change the mining companys behaviour.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Desertification/Drought, Fires, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Oil spills</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>Introduction of invasive alien plants and loss of ecosystem function </td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Health Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Accidents, Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Deaths</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>Exposure to radiation from Monazite, dangerous work, water contamination. Loss of medicinal plants.</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>The migration of work-seekers from other regions into the mining area has created competition for limited jobs and land. Increased incidence of social diseases. Contract workers poorly paid with little security. </td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>In operation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Compensation<br /> Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area<br /> New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study<br /> The mining company has failed to honour its original undertakings in terms of worker benefits (housing, medical etc.) and failed to deliver the environmental protection and restoration that was promised. </td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Development of Alternatives</td><td>The problem is what might happen when the mining in the area comes to an end, as there are no guarantees or funds in trust to ensure that the area will be properly restored.</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>No</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>The impacted community has limited resources and most community members who are aware of the problems feel intimidated by the public relations propaganda power of the mining company and by the political support and protection the mining company receives.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Legislations</td><td><table><tr><td><p> National Constitution<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Mineral Resorces Act<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> National Environment Management Act (NEMA)<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> National Water Act<br/></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">References</td><td><table><tr><td><p> The Gulliver File - Roger Moody<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Partizans<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> SABC TV 50/50 Pro and anti mining video inserts (Available on DVD)<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Campaign for St Lucia (CSL) video <br/></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Mines and Communities - <br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Article: <br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> <a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Media Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> To be added later<br/></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Comments</td><td>The mining company has managed to subdue community resistance through so-called community development projects and token donations to schools etc. </td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>Wally Menne</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>08/04/2014</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>