Communities in the diamond-rich Richtersveld in the Northern Cape are up in arms about the sale of mines along the banks of the Orange River to a junior mining company, leaving behind a multimillion-rand rehabilitation debt that they believe will never be met. A R95.7m rehabilitation fund set up to fix the damage caused by 50 years of diamond mining in the environmentally sensitive Richtersveld is a drop in the ocean of what is needed to restore the area, according to local community members. JSE-listed alluvial diamond mining company Trans Hex, in which businessman Christo Wiese holds more than 40%, sold three of its loss-making mines in April last year to junior mining company Lower Orange River Diamonds for R72m cash. Since the sale, tensions have been mounting amid community claims on the land being mined, the mineral right and the mines themselves. Fears that the Richtersveld residents will be left to clean up decades of environmental damage are adding further strain. “The comm...

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