Government-controlled mining company, African Exploration Mining and Finance Corporation (AEMFC) (Ltd) has applied to the Department of Mineral Resources for the right to explore several areas of both Stellenbosch and Tygerberg for ore.
Some of the main wineries likely to be affected include Jordan Estate, Mooiplaas, Zevenwacht and De Grendel and the area concerned also covers a great deal of the Bottelary Hills Renosterbos Conservancy as well. Tielman Roos, owner of Mooiplaas and the chairperson of the Bottelary conservancy area, said he was concerned about the application from an ecological and tourism point of view, whilst George Sieraha, chairman of the Durbanville Community Forum, expressed the fear that the application was an attempt to expropriate land for low-cost housing by stealth.
In a statement issued yesterday, chairman of the prestigious Cape Winemakers Guild, Johan Malan from Simonsig, was strongly opposed to any such development at all. He pointed out that not only would the proposed mining activities destroy the UNESCO registered Bottelary Hills Renosterbos Conservancy and the vineyards that attract large numbers of tourists to South Africa every year; it would also result in the loss of employment and income for a great many families working on the wine farms in these areas.
Malan goes on to say ‘Pristine and unique terroir coupled with great winemaking skills are the usual credentials for great wines and mining in the winelands will damage the reputation of South African wines in the international market. The long term benefits of protecting the natural beauty of the winelands will far outweigh the short term advantages of mining.’
Gary Jordan, whose farm is one of those threatened by the proposed exploration, has set up a Facebook page Stop Mining Our Winelands to garner support and share information. All protests and comments from interested and affected parties must be registered by 9th March 2010 and all information on how to do so is available on the page.