COASTAL Links SA members in Port Nolloth recently approached the Richtersveld Municipality to look into the recent mining activities of Alexkor, an Alexander Bay based diamond mining company that recently started to mine for diamonds in Port Nolloth.

Christiaan Mackenzie, the chairperson of CLSA in Port Nolloth, says that the area in which Alexkor is mining for diamonds, is a place that the fishers of Port Nolloth have been catching crayfish for many years.

Mackenzie said that the Alexkor alleges that the area in which they are mining belongs to them, but that it is not the case, since the fishers have been working in that area as long as he can remember.

“My father and his parents before him caught crayfish in that area, and it is also a breeding ground for the crayfish, and what the mining company is doing, is disturbing the crayfish in their habit,” said Mackenzie.

He said the mining company is using two methods to mine the diamonds from the sea bed, the one is called bank pumping, where they put pipes from the strand into the sea and pump out the diamonds.

The other one is called beach mining, where they would sift through the dry sand on the beach for diamonds.

Mackenzie said that Alexkor does not do the seabed diamond mining themselves, but use sub-contractors who mine on their behalf, and at present there are four boats of these sub-contractors stationed in Port Nolloth.

Mackenzie also alleges that the diamond company just does as it pleases, and the local municipality does nothing to stop them.

“Recently they put up a fence over a big stretch of land and it now seems like we are camped in.”

All this created big problems for the fishers, as they have up to this point only been able to catch crayfish for four days this year so far, because the crayfish are just not in the water anymore.

“We have just been able to catch snoek, and the crayfish allocations of the fishers of Port Nolloth have not been caught yet.

At the moment we have 10 tons of crayfish that are still in the water, we have not managed to catch it yet, and now the crayfish are in berry, and we are not allowed to catch the crayfish.”

When the crayfish are in berry it means that they are in breeding mode, the berry refers to the eggs that they carry which result in them bringing about off-spring.

Mackenzie says that they have only been able to catch snoek and other line-fish so far this year, and that they would not be able to take the 10 tons of crayfish out of the water.

CLSA Port Nolloth approached the Richtersveld Municipality about this issue and plans are afoot to get all the role-players like Alexkor, CLSA, Masifundise, DAFF and the Department of Mineral Resources around the table to discuss this problem.

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