Mtunzini - Exxaro proposed sand mining, South Africa


People in Mtunzini and surroundings are resisting a proposal by Exxaro to establish sand mining operations in the area immediately to the south of Mtunzini. Mining will be for titanium, ilmenite and zircon.

See more...
Basic Data
NameMtunzini - Exxaro proposed sand mining, South Africa
CountrySouth Africa
ProvinceKwa-Zulu Natal
SiteFairbreeze, Mtunzini
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Mineral processing
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsLife expectancy 15 years.

Titanium slag will for export to the Tronox company.

ha open cast mine 600 ha slime dam.

Throughput 2200 tons per hours.

Project Area (in hectares)4600
Level of Investment (in USD)300000000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Populationthousands
Start Date2003
Company Names or State EnterprisesExxaro Resources Limited from South Africa
Tronox - Former part of Kerr McGee
Relevant government actorsDepartment of Mineral Resources, Industrial Development Corporation, Dept of Environment, Dept of Water Affairs, KZN Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMtuzini Conservancy, Mtuzini Residents Association
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingNeighbours/citizens/communities
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Regular newsletter via e-mail Engagement with other groups
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), 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
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Oil spills
OtherThe establishment of slimes dams in valleys and the conversion of soils to pure sand residue after mining as all clays and humus will be removed.
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: 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, Other environmental related diseases
OtherThe town of Mtunzini would be subject to fine red soil particles being blown in from the mining operations. Young children and the aged are likely to suffer most from increased respiratory ailments.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women
OtherDisruption of existing local rural economy and replacement by an industrial activity that will require extensive restoration if it is even possible.
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Negotiated alternative solution
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
The mining could be moved to a less controversial area where it would not create as much conflict with the local community.
Development of AlternativesMaintenance of the status quo with a focus on eco-tourism as the sector with the greatest potential.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Resistance to mining started when local people became aware of the huge scale of the proposed mine and the impacts mineral sand mining would have on the affected environment and communities.

When negative impacts became evident through problems and conflicts at the Hillendale mine, it triggered a response from affected community members. This led to general awareness of the problems, and the Mtunzini community decided to take a strong stand against the proposed mining at Fairbreeze south of Mtunzini.

Sources and Materials

Environmental Management Act

Mineral Resources Act

Waste Management Act

Water Act


[click to view]

Financial Mail; Mining vs the environment-Green jobs or grainy?
[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

Country Life: DUNE and GLOOM


[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorPatrick Burnett
Last update08/04/2014