No to mining Schoenies

A Schoenmakers mine like this could be on the cards

For the past three months there has been an ongoing “public participation process” initiated by Algoa Consulting Engineers on behalf of the Glendore Sand and Stone Company which proposes to open a “Schoenmakers Sand Mine” just a kilometre or so north of this popular seaside village.

The Schoenmakerskop and Friends of Schoenies communities have made it clear in meetings, in social media communications and in documents of protest, including a petition, that they are all irrevocably opposed to the very notion of this development in our backyard.

It might be claimed that the villagers are being selfish as sand for the metro’s building needs must surely be obtained from somewhere. However, it is our contention that more appropriate sources of building sand and stones should be sought.

There are clear reasons why a “Schoenmakers” mining operation is not a good idea:

The mine, if approved, will exacerbate an already dangerous situation on the section of Victoria Drive south of the Rover Club. This very bumpy, narrow and winding old chip-and-spray road was not designed to carry heavy traffic: there are already signs of base course failure and the road is long overdue for a major upgrade. However this is a provincial road and Bhisho has declared there are no plans to upgrade it as funds are unavailable;

On July 27, the Schoenmakerskop Residents’ Committee conducted a traffic monitoring survey at the entrance to Glendore’s Rover Club sand-and-stone mine site where the upper section of Victoria Drive has been widened: we were surprised at the number of trucks lumbering, heavily laden with loads of sand from the mine site.

Despite assurances that no more than 20 trucks per day would be conveying sand from the projected new mine at Schoenmakers, our survey revealed that 175 trucks (83 Glendore Sand and Stone and 92 private company vehicles) arrived and departed (ie 85+ left heavily loaded with sand) between 7am and 5pm from the Rover site.

Moreover, there were also 26 bakkies leaving laden with sand. Clearly, given the ever-growing demands for building sand, 20 trucks a day will not suffice at the projected Schoenmakers mining operation;

The World War 2 look-out fortress was to have been demolished, but after protests from residents, the mine applicants relented. Built in 1939-40, the observation post were initiated by the Union Defence Force to protect this section of coastline. These structures are protected by the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999.

There are fears that once the sand dune is carved away around it, the fortress structure will be destabilised. This look-out fortress has both historical and cultural value as it was a key site in the film Marigolds in August, starring local theatre icon John Kani;

Once the dune is destabilised, the prevailing south-westerly winds will blow sand across Victoria Drive. This will exacerbate already existing hazards: this narrow, winding and very bumpy road carries a strong flow of traffic to and from the university’s back entrance.

Moreover, for many hundreds of cyclists (for example, Ironman participants and local clubs) this is a favourite route down to and around the Marine Drive. There are also problems with stray cattle on the road. A number of accidents have already taken place in recent times;

Allowing the mine to go ahead could signal the end of the international Ironman event. This would lead to huge economic damage as the Ironman brings thousands of tourists to our Nelson Mandela Bay metro;

Heavy trucks lead to potholes: this is an ongoing problem and will become worse if the Schoenmakers Mine becomes operational;

The proposed mine operation will inevitably lead to some environmental damage to endangered fynbos and animals in the reserve;

Mining applicants are required to erect notices advising the public of their intentions. A notice was placed near the foot of the dune, but at some distance from Victoria Drive and behind a barbed wire fence and a locked gate. This can hardly be termed transparency!

We invite all who are opposed to the “Schoenmakers Sand Mine”, application to sign the hard copy petition at the Sacramento Restaurant. This petition will be presented to the Department of Mineral Resources.

ANDRÉ LEMMER, (CHAIRMAN, SCHOENMAKERSKOP RATEPAYERS’ & RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION )

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