The South African West Coast has always had a reputation as a wild place but it has taken an Australian mining outfit to show the locals just how wild things can get.
The heavy mineral sands Tormin mine, owned by ASX-listed Australian company Mineral Commodities Ltd (MRC), boasted in its first quarter of operation that the mine would pay for itself after less than a year in full operation – an almost unprecedented return on capital from mining. The mine is currently valued at around AU$50m (around R477m). In the light of these extraordinary profits it seems the company has been tempted to take some unhappy shortcuts to achieve its goals, raising questions about its management approach and operational ethics.
Research into the mine, situated 350km north of Cape Town, has revealed numerous infractions that serve to undermine South African environmental and mining regulatory regimes.