Mission: Brits Granite Mines
Date: 8 June 2008
Requesting organisation: Brits Bankeveld Bewarings Forum (BBBF)
Location: Brits, Nortwest Province
Pilot: Abrie Kruger
This is a photograph of one of the many abandoned granite mines in the Brits area.
The Bateleurs, in the person of volunteer pilot Abrie Kruger, continues to lend support to the Brits Bankeveld Bewarings Forum (BBBF) in its quest to remedy the degradation wrought by unregulated legal and illegal granite mining operations near Brits. Here is the latest report from Andrie Loubser of the BBBF:
"Once again The Bateleurs gave us the privilege of taking to the sky over Brits in Abrie Kruger's Beaver.
All the new amendments to environmental and mining law and all the new regulations create the impression that perpetrators are finally going to come face to face with the business end of serious state management. So, with the expectations of true believers, we set out on a mission to determine the effect of this legislation intended to protect the environment, especially as this relates to the granite mines.
Alas!!! Nothing of the sort applies to the mining fraternity. Further to our reportback in December 2007, even more granite mines have stopped operations. But there has been no rehabilitation. I repeat - no rehabilitation. In response to an enquiry as to why they have stopped mining, a miner said they were cutting their stone stock into slabs, on site. This allows another peculiarity to surface: the Environment Management Program (EMP) report has been amended by public servants in the Department of Minerals & Energy (DME) to enable "industry" instead of "mining". So much for public participation and public concern regarding the cumulative effect. Is this not an example of how they make a farce of legislation?
We also noted that two new granite mines have opened - very quietly and discreetly. Again, so much for public participation. It appears that the more our various government departments amend the laws, the more the DME reverts to the methodology of the previous dispensation, with its indifference to civil society. This 007 approach by the DME is not conducive to democracy as we know it."
The destruction of arable land and biodiversity
The photo shows arable land near Brits, ruined as a result of mining activities in its midst.
"In the last ten years at least 2000 Ha of oxygen manufacturing veld has been denuded of oxygen manufacturing plants - by mining practices of course. Add to this the carbon footprint produced by mining practices and poorly-serviced machinery, and you get an ugly picture of dirty money being made. And we have not even entered into this equation the calculated destruction of biodiversity, never mind the re-institution thereof.
It really is a pity that South Africa, a country with a progressive constitution, does not see its way clear to having a government department geared to protect and guide economic and other actions in such a way that the environment and citizens are not the losers. The only way we can regard the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism (DEAT), at present, is that it is a fifth column, doing its best to accommodate foreign perpetrators by fragmenting responsibility and accountability amongst government departments, thereby allowing the perpetrators to get away.
The present vogue in government is to don blinkers, work up a lather to secure investments, and then wallow in the material benefits. This approach does not take into account the vast amount of raw materials that leave our shores. Something is going to give - and who will then be blamed? Slavery?
The photos taken on this recent Bateleurs flight speak for themselves. After take-off, heading south, we could see ahead of us the ghastly air that our 'Frates and Sores' in Gauteng are forced to breathe. One of these days aeroplanes will simply glide, as though on skis, over this thick blanket of pollution.
WESSA is now actively involved in the Brits region, under the leadership of John Wesson. The overall biodiversity conservation is their concern. We are more than willing to assist them with photographic material obtained with the assistance of The Bateleurs. It is the voices of concern that must be heard. The photos speak in a voice that transcends all language barriers. There is a worldwide groundswell from people who are concerned about the environment. We will surf this swell and spread the word of survival of the species in our own little corner of the world to support them."