The City of Cape Town is now also being exposed to the export of Manganese Ore as a recent report in the Weekend Argus shows – full report here.
Transnet has cited increased demand for the commodity as the reason. Which then beggars the question; “Why then has Transnet not fast tracked the proposed Coega facility for export through the Port of Nqura?”
With the knowledge that City of Cape Town had been unaware the ore was being exported through the port and Transnet had not requested a license to handle the manganese, the really cynical will be asking if this loading of Manganese Ore is not an attack on the political dispensation there, with the inevitable conclusion that we in Port Elizabeth are about to be doubly bent over and ravaged.
The report in the Weekend Argus confirms that:
- Manganese dust is known to be toxic and prolonged exposure can cause health risks for humans and threaten the environment.
- According to Earthlife Africa, manganese dust is dangerous to humans and sea life because of its toxicity.
- Excessive exposure to the dust can lead to manganism, also known as manganese poisoning, which has symptoms similar to Parkinson’s Disease, such as psychiatric and motor disturbances.
- Studies show the dust is also harmful to sea life.
- Consuming water with high manganese concentration and breathing air polluted with manganese dust could be dangerous for humans.
The one good thing about Manganism for me personally is that, as one of the symptoms is the appearance of being under the influence of alcohol, I have the perfect excuse when stopped at a roadblock; “I have been exposed on an almost daily basis to Manganese Ore dust and have contracted Manganism – so I am not really drunk officer!”
- Cape Town City had been unaware the ore was being exported through the port and Transnet had not requested a license to handle the manganese.
- If the commodity is less than 100 000 tons, no license is required according to the law and Transnet has said it is dealing with less than this amount at the port.
- From an air quality management perspective, the operator of the listed activity would need to demonstrate compliance with the prescribed minimum emission standards and would also be required to develop and implement a fugitive dust management plan once licensed.
- Manganese ore should ideally be transported by rail in closed bags or containers (We all know that that DOES NOT happen) to suitably equipped ports where it is loaded on to vessels via conveyor belt, to avoid endangering people or the environment.
- Transporting manganese ore by road raises questions about how the seller of the commodity, which is often the mining company, handles, stores and transports its resource.
The last point above is very pertinent to Port Elizabeth – all you need to do is follow the DIRT on the roads out of the Port of Port Elizabeth, along the N2 to the Manganese Storage facility. I wonder who is responsible for the clean up of our roads and additional strain and maintenance that the 24-hour transporting of these heavy loads brings?