Major Threat - Verlorenvlei (Ramsar Site SA103) - May 2009

At the Western Cape Birding Forum meeting recently, Neil Smith (from Birdlife SA) outlined the serious threat to Verlorenvlei and the Verlorenvlei Valley arising from the application by Bongani Minerals for tungsten mining rights in the valley.

The planned development is a massive 50ha open-cast mine, with a possible 20-year lifespan, which will destroy the valley and the vlei.  The implications are huge for Verlorenvlei, which is one of the largest natural coastal wetlands in the Western Cape, supporting 189 species of birds, 77 of which are waterbirds. The chances of contamination of groundwater and surface water will be very high and one of the rivers likely to be polluted with toxic chemicals is the Krom Antonies River, which supplies the bulk of water to the Verlorenvlei estuary.

All or most of the water replenishng the vlei would be diverted to the mine's use. The mine would take water from three rivers, with implications for the fruit and vegetable growing farming industry in the valley. Productive and valuable farming land will be be lost, along with farmworkers' jobs.

The damage will be irreversible.

Neil called on all WCBF Clubs and any other parties to independently oppose this development and register their objections with Jimmy Walsh at [email protected].