East coast, best coast The South African Eastern Cape community of Xolobeni — in the Xhosa language spoken by most Eastern Cape inhabitants, the “X” is pronounced as a click — after years of work have had a big win on mining in the area, and it’s all thanks to Australia (though not in the way we might like…).

The North-Gauteng High Court has ruled that affected communities have a right to see mining licence applications — levelling the information asymmetry in negotiations with mining companies.

Previously communities had to rely on a cumbersome, slow freedom of information process that would as often as not end in rejection.

As Crikey reported last year Xolobeni has been rent asunder by a mine proposed in the area by Australian company Mineral Commodities (MRC). The split between pro- and anti-mining groups has torn families apart and resulted in threats and murders.

Nonhle Mbuthuma, a spokeswoman for the Amadiba Crisis Committee, an organisation opposing mining development in the area, said it was after MRC’s refusal to share details with the community that the court case commenced:

In March 2015, the Australian mining company MRC’s South African subsidiary TEM filed a new application to do open-cast mining on the coast in Xolobeni. We demanded to see the application. They refused. Our lawyers then started a court case to force TEM to give the mining application to the community.

I have questions The university sector is in an unprecedented crisis. Border closures have cut off crucial income from international students, and the government has gone out of its way — several times — to ensure the sector can’t access support. As a result there are job cuts and pay cuts across the country. Just today it was reported that the University of New South Wales would make 256 positions redundant.

At the same time, the Coalition has put forward controversial legislation looking to restructure uni funding. So there are some serious questions to ask of the sector, you would think. The Senate committee into the bill commenced yesterday and Coalition senators showed where their priorities are.

They barely asked a question all day until University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence appeared and Western Australian Liberal Senator Matt O’Sullivan leapt into action asking how much the institution is paying former racial discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane. Crucial stuff.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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