A landmark court ruling not only gives the Eastern Cape community of Xolobeni the right to refuse mining in the pristine Wild Coast area but will extend this power to any community under customary law. More than 15 years of fierce dispute over the potential mining of the titanium-rich dunes in the impoverished area culminated in a high court judgment that was handed down in just 40 seconds. On Thursday judge Annelie Basson of the high court in Pretoria ruled that mining minister Gwede Mantashe had no lawful authority to grant a mining right to an Australian company, Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources, unless “full and informed” consent had been obtained from the surrounding Umgungundlovu community. But the victory is bigger than just that, says Johan Lorenzen, associate at Richard Spoor Attorneys, which represented the community in its legal bid against the minister. “It’s not just for the Xolobeni community. It means communities that are under customary law have a right to say...

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