City of Cape Town vs MaccSand

With our help the City of Cape Town has set a Constitutional Court precedent that enable municipalities to prevent mining from taking place in areas where the zoning does not permit mining (e.g. residential areas).

MaccSand CC, a mining company, applied to the Department of Minerals for a mining permit and right to mine sand from two coastal sand dunes on land owned by the City of Cape Town. Both of the dunes are situated in the heart of the residential area, close to school on an area zoned “public open space which is used by all Mitchell’s Plain residents. Remnants of the original indigenous vegetation of the area still exist on the dunes, which are striking feature in a landscape that is generally flat and suburban.

The Department of Minerals gave MaccSand the mining authorisations that it required and informed it that it did not need any other authorisations in order to mine despite the fact that the municipal zoning scheme does not permit mining on land zoned “public open space”. We represented the City in a successful application to the Western Cape High Court for an interdict preventing MaccSand from undertaking any further mining activities until it had obtained the requisite land use planning approval and environmental authorisation. The Department of Minerals and Maccsand then appealed, first to the Supreme Court of Appeal and then to the Constitutional Court. The City succeeded in each court. The Constitutional Court eventually held that Maccsand could not mine unless, in addition to the mining authorisations, it obtained land-use planning approval from the City.