MISSION 31 of 2012

Name of mission: Sand Mining in Rivers on the North Coast of KZN
Date of Mission: 7th December 2012
Aircraft used: Jabiru J450
Pilot: Craig Wing
Beneficiary: David Maritz

Objective of the flight

The objective of the flight was for the Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Sub-Directorate of the Ilembe District Office of the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs to observe and document, through aerial photography, the extent of sand mining on the Mdloti, Tongaat, Mhlali, Umvoti, Nonoti, and Tugela Rivers. This information is vital in order to get a status quo on the sand mining that is taking place along these rivers. This is in response to the number of complaints received by this Department regarding sand mining and the environmental impacts that are arising from these sand mining operations. This status quo will be used to monitor how many sand mining operations are legal and how many are illegal both from a perspective of those operating without permits and those operating with permit, but outside of their permitted areas.

06 Close up of first sand mining operation on Mhlali River in Image 5Pilot’s Report by Craig Wing

“The objective of this successful mission was to identify sand mining operations on the North Coast rivers in KwaZulu-Natal. Numerous illegal sand mining operations were identified, and the Department of Environmental Affairs will use the story of this mission, together with the photographic evidence obtained, to seek parliamentary support to stop illegal sand mining. The eventual impact of this mission can only be measured if the Department of Environmental Affairs is successful in its bid to stop illegal and unscrupulous sand mining of the North Coast rivers.”

Beneficiary’s Report by David Maritz

“During the flight we observed a number of sand mining operations taking place on the Mdloti, Tongaat, Mhlali, and Umvoti Rivers. The sand mining operations range from small scale operations to very large scale operations. The most affected rivers seem to be the Mhlali and Umvoti Rivers.

The following table indicates the number of sand mining operations taking place on each of the aforementioned rivers and their status:

Rivers Mdloti Tongaat Mhlali Umvoti Nonoti Tugela
Number of Sand Mining Operations 3 2 4 8 0 0
Scale All Large 1 Small
1 Large
All Large 1 Small
7 Large
Nil Nil
Status All operational 1 operational
1 Vacant
3 Operational
1 Vacant
All Operational Nil Nil


17 Seventh sand mining operation upstream from the Umvoti River estuaryIn conclusion……….

1. In what way did this flight serve to answer the stated objective/s?

We managed to get photos of the sand mining taking place in the Mdloti, Tongaat, Mhlali, and Umvoti Rivers. We will therefore be able to compile a report on the status quo of the sand mining within these rivers and be able to better monitor which of these mining operations is mining outside of their permitted mining areas and which of these mining operations is mining illegally without permits once checked against the Department of Mineral Resources’ data base of permitted sand mining operations.

2. What actions are likely to be taken as a result of this flight?

A report will be compiled giving a status quo of the sand mining operations taking place within the abovementioned rivers. This report will be used to provide information to the various Departments that have a mandate to protect our rivers as a resource and the associated biota within these rivers. This report will also be forwarded to the Department of Mineral Resources in order for them to monitor compliance of these sand mining operations and to take enforcement action against those mining operations that are acting illegally. This is being done with a view to establish a consolidated enforcement drive including all affected authorities to ensure compliance with applicable environmental legislation and to rectify the impacts to our rivers arising from these mining operations.

3. What impacts will be measured, now or later, as a result of this flight?

Impacts arising from sand mining on the abovementioned rivers will be measured at a later stage.