At the beginning of March, news came via Stellenbosch-based Jordan winery that the country's African Exploration Mining and Finance Corporation (AEMFC) had applied to prospect in the Western Cape. The AEMFC's search included zinc, tin, lead, copper and silver.
The Cape Winemakers Guild issued a statement which said “…proposed mining activities [will] destroy the UNESCO registered Bottelary Renosterbos Conservancy and the vineyards that attract large numbers of tourists to South Africa every year; it will also result in the loss of employment and income for a great many families working on the wine farms in these areas.”
On March 11, another statement appeared that suggested the company had withdrawn these plans. According to the statement, the company’s chairman Mputumi Damane said: “We have just completed an extensive process of reviewing our corporate plans. One of the key outcomes of that process was a decision to reprioritise the areas around the country where we plan to devote our energies.
“Like any other business we operate with limited resources, and part of the business plan review process was to shorten the list of areas where we are going to deploy our corporate resources going forward.
“On the basis of the adapted strategic trajectory, we have decided to withdraw the application to the Department of Mineral Resources for prospecting rights in the Western Cape.”
However, according to Gary Jordan from Jordan Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, the company is to continue application to prospect.
Jordan said: “Whilst we all were under the impression that sanity had prevailed, AEMFC has continued with its applications.
“How else can one explain that a company intentionally proceeded contrary to its chairperson’s public announcements! Was the statement deliberately vague and deliberately dated 2009? Did AEMFC deliberately mislead the public that they were withdrawing their applications? It certainly appears to be the case.”