The surface mining industry association, ASPASA, has highlighted the fact that Government seems to be ignoring the very real problem of illegal sand mining. The results of this plundering could be catastrophic, from haunting environmental issues such as landslides, severe erosion, disappearing beaches and flooding to economic consequences such as eventual displacement of legitimate and sustainable sand mining operations.

Nico Pienaar, ASPASA director, says, “It must be remembered that licenced mining operations have to jump through hoops to get a mining licence and that the assurance of compliance with relevant legislation, regulations, and bylaws relating to the payment of tax, royalties, water usage, environmental, health, safety and other requirements is onerous and expensive.

“One cannot simply let an individual or company with an excavator or truck begin removing sand from its natural state anywhere in the country. The minute minerals are removed from their natural state for further processing or sale, it is regarded as a mining operation and needs to comply with the requirements stated previously.

“Whether it is a municipality excavating sand for a road, a construction contractor using river sand for a construction project or shifting beach sand for use elsewhere, if not properly approved these actions are criminal offences and need to be investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted.”

ASPASA has adopted a zero-tolerance attitude towards illegal mines and will lobby Government and its various departments to act and shut these operations down. In instances where government departments or municipalities are implicated, the association wants to ensure justice is served and guilty parties are prosecuted.

“Please report suspicious sand mining operations to your local authorities and local councillors. If these operations persist, we suggest contacting our offices to report the matter and we will pass the information on to the relevant Government departments and law enforcement agencies. We must act now to save our environment,” implores Nico.

Nico Pienaar of ASPASA. Photo credit: ASPASA

Nico Pienaar of ASPASA. Photo credit: ASPASA