While we have always known about the threat mining holds for the grain producing areas of South Africa (read more), we were recently reminded about the impact one important industry can have on another when the plans for fracking in the Karoo were introduced (read more).
Agriculture is important to provide food for our people. And in the protection of our resources and beauty of the natural landscape lies enormous tourism potential – accompanied by job creation opportunities. At the same time, however, the country is also dependent on the mining sector and we do need electricity…
This dilemma is one that I often think about and it is a popular topic of discussion among friends and associates. But suddenly, our worries and opinions turned into real concern when this week the news broke that we are now confronted by something much closer to home – the suggested sand mining in the Paardeberg wine growing area. (read more)
Why is this area special? Not only have the revolutionary wines and winemakers of the area done a lot for the image of South African wine over the last few years – even if, at least, they created media interest – but the area has long been known for quality wine grape production. And, with its almost avant-garde appeal, the region with its wine and horse farms definitely holds much tourism potential and the ability to create jobs and ensure skills training and development in local communities.
But it is obvious that I would think like this – I am after all a winemaker with interests in the wine and tourism industries. So, I try to see the other side of the story. No expert in the field of mining, I do understand that we consume energy at an alarming rate, that it has to come from somewhere and that we can’t have our cake and eat it. But perhaps we can approach this challenge in a different way.
There is no denying that by introducing mining to a specific area, the natural landscape is destroyed and a significant impact on social issues can be expected. While some existing industries – supermarkets, restaurants, accommodation – can experience an increase in business, others, such as agriculture (usually the heart of small communities) will definitely suffer. Mining also creates jobs, but just as with the stimulation of select business, it is not sustainable and will only be relevant until the area is stripped of its underground riches.
Again not claiming to be any authority on the subject, but why don’t we rather spend our time and money on exploring alternative sources of energy?
These alternative, greener and cleaner options are expensive and of course have their own challenges, but does it not make sense to tackle these issues in order to ultimately have the product we need and at the same time protect our valuable resources and use them in a more sustainable manner?
PS. We all know about sun and wind energy, but what is the alternative to sand? “The m-Sand (manufactured sand) is the widely accepted substitute to sand in many countries. It is produced by grinding stone gravel and boulders. Besides m-Sand, builders in Hong Kong use powdered glass as a substitute for sand. On the other hand, Singapore uses copper slag (a by-product of copper production) whereas US uses all these alternatives including furnace slag.” (Read more)