WoSA distressed at mining plans

WoSA distressed at mining plans

Wines of South Africa has said it is “distressed” at plans by the country's African Exploration and Mining Finance Corp to reopen mines in the Cape Town and Stellenbosch municipal areas.

The state-owned mining company has applied for rights to prospect for tin, zinc, lead, lithium, copper, manganese and silver in the wine-producing regions.

When contacted by just-drinks today (1 March), Wines of South Africa's CEO, Su Birch said the organisation is “extremely distressed” by the corporation's application, and would “vigorously oppose it”.

“It makes neither environmental nor economic sense,” Birch said. "The winelands ... are a huge tourist attraction and draw visitors to South Africa from across the world, creating jobs and boosting the economy. Mining would scar the landscape and impact negatively on job creation.”

The wine industry currently employs around 275,000 people, Birch added, and cited economists in the country as calculating that for every ZAR1m (US$130,150) invested in the wine industry 5.5 jobs are created, while the equivalent figure for mining is 3.4.

The World Wide Fund for Nature also attacked the mining firm. “Not only would mining in this area have a massive impact on the conservation of biodiversity, but it would also have major economic impacts on the booming wine tourism in the region, along with significant job losses on wine farms,” said Inge Kotze, project coordinator of the World Wide Fund for Nature’s biodiversity and wine initiative.