Fishers are mounting a legal challenge to marine diamond operations off South Africa’s west coast.
They claim rights to mine in shallow sea and along an 85km coastal strip of land were granted and subsequently renewed without proper consultation.
Their court action, due to begin today (29 August) at Western Cape High Court, is being opposed by Trans Hex Operations, which has marine and land operations in South Africa and Namibia, as well as interests in Angola.
The mining rights were granted to Trans Hex (formerly Moonstone Diamond Marketing) between 1994 and 1998.
In 2015, the Department of Mineral Resources (DMRE) extended Cpae Town-based Trans Hex’s three sea concessions for 30 years.
The South African news agency GroundUp says there was no public participation in, or announcement of, these awards.
The environmental non-profit organization Protect the West Coast, together with individual fishers and their representatives, is calling on the DMRE to halt marine diamond mining. It is also challenging its legality.
Trans Hex, which operates four marine diamond vessels, says the legality challenge has “no prospects of success”, and insists the company has “an impeccable record of environmental compliance”.