Rural residents from the Pondoland Wild Coast are to launch a legal test case in the Pretoria High Court on Monday challenging the right of mining companies to dig for any minerals without prior consent from communal land owners. The case, set down for hearing by Judge Annali Basson for three days (April 23-25), has far-reaching ramifications for the mining industry and government policy if the court accepts legal submissions by 128 subsistence farmers and other residents from the Xolobeni/Umgungundlovu area, south of the Wild Coast Sun. This is because current mining laws require companies to “consult” affected communities – but do not require explicit permission from landowners or communities. While the residents allege that a titanium mining proposal by Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources will lead to “disastrous social, economic, and ecological consequences”, the case ultimately hinges on the legal interpretation of two separate laws — one that aims to promote mining, the ot...

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