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Why protect the Groot Marico River Catchment?

Jewel of the North West’ -  the unique Groot Marico River system – a strategic national and international water resource and national freshwater ecosystem priority area, as well as a magnificent, unspoilt and culturally rich African place – is under constant threat.


What has Mmutlwa wa Noko accomplished?


Prospecting and open cast mining company ‘African Nickel’ applies for prospecting rights for nickel, copper, cobalt, chrome, PGMs and gold on some 300 farms, covering an area of about 200km sq  falling within the highly sensitive Catchment.

Founding members of MWN initiate, run and fund the legal, Information and media campaigns.


1.  LEGAL - The legality of African Nickel’s application processes were scrutinized & challenged.  We collected and submitted hundreds of objections which led to a REMDEC (Regional Mining, Development and Environmental Committee) hearing. We led the presentation on behalf of interested and affected parties.(I&APs)


2.  INFORMATION - We drove far and wide to inform  those affected, including farmers, farm labourers,  ladies and church groups and massive downstream  traditional communities.


3.  MEDIA -  We launched an extensive campaign highlighting the importance of the sensitive catchment and organised

 and hosted tours to the River and one of its main sources, the Marico Eye.


African Nickel withdrew its prospecting applications in October 2010.


Founding members establish a formal association with very clear goals and a strong committee organised to deal with future threats to Groot Marico’s ‘Blue Gold,’ and build on the relationships and education and info campaign started in 2010.



Andalusite mining company ‘Samrec’ applies for mining rights over 12 areas all falling within the Catchment, after being granted prospecting rights over these areas in 2006 without landowners’ knowledge.

On the basis of MWN submitting an objection directly to the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR)the matter was referred to REMDEC. MWN informed, updated, assisted, co-ordinated & led the presentation of objections by interested and affected parties at this hearing and throughout the campaignThe mining application has still not been granted.



We are seconded onto the steering committee of the DWA (Dep of Water Affairs) National River Classification Project Our presence is described as ‘a model for other communities’. We campaign successfully for the separation of the Groot Marico River’s upper reaches (graded B+) and the Klein Marico’s (graded C/D) management system to ensure protection of the Groot Marico River.

We are on the steering committee and campaign  for an  effective and low risk waste water treatment facility  for Groot Marico and Reboile. This has still not been built as of January 2020.



Bataung Mining applies for prospecting rights for nickel, diamonds - incl. alluvial -  silica and rare earth minerals, affecting the towns of Zeerust, Koster and Swartruggens, targeting strategic water supply and flow areas to these towns – most notably the Klein Marico River, which joins the Groot Marico River and then flows downstream to many massive traditional communities. MWN springs into action once again. To date no approval has been granted.

We are  invited to join MECA (Mining Environment Communities Alliance) founded by CER (Centre for Environmental Rights)



Without the knowledge of Interested and Affected parties (IAPs), including direct neighbours, Sanral (National Roads Authority) obtained a mining licence in 2012 for gravel in Rietvallei. The first that any IAPs knew of the right was when machinery began stripping indigenous trees, bush and aloes from a pristine slope on 5 August 2015.   The site of the open cast mine falls within the River Catchment and is a CBA 1 (Critical Biodiversity Area) We oppose the validity of the application.

Result: In late 2016 a team begins rehabilitation of the stripped areas on official instruction. 

We present at the Endangered Wildlife Trusts's Healthy Catchment Alliance conference  at EWT HQ to groups from across South Africa as well as members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 

In November intrepid Brit Paul Whittering sets off on an epic solo cycle  ride of over 2000kms to raise funds for Mmutlwa wa Noko. Please see the page entitled: 'Santiago'

Mid December: De Beers Consolidated Mines  apply for prospecting rights for Kimberlite (diamond bearing rock) on several farm portions which are Critical Biodiversity Areas (CBA) within the sensitive and strategically important Groot Marico River Catchment. 

We oppose this application. 


 We facilitate the pilot permaculture project in Reboile township adjoining the town of Groot Marico with the African Pride Nature  Conservation Association (APNCA)  - the first nature conservation association from Reboile - and  the Tikologo Permaculture  Project and WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Association of South Africa).

We assist the African Pride Nature Conservation Association to establish a strong business identity. This includes working with the team and a local graphic designer to design an appropriate logo and letterhead, which we also sponsor and the design of a banner for use at local events.

We present at MEJCON - the Mining and Environmental Justice Conference organised by MECA (Mining Environment Communities Alliance)

We participate in RQOs (Resource Quality Objectives) as managed by Department of Water and Sanitation (DWAS) the next step in the  river classification project.

Exigo Sustainability (Pty) Ltd is appointed by SA Fluorite (Pty ) Ltd and Southern Palace 398 (Pty)Ltd to facilitate a mining right application for fluorspar as well other related minerals, viz. copper ore, diamonds, lead, vanadium and zinc ore 18 kms South of the town of Zeerust. The application area covers approx 23 000 Ha of bushveld and grasslands within the vicinity of the Marico (Kaalloog),  Molopo and Molemane eyes and borders on the Molemane Eye nature Reserve. 3 open pits totalling 175 Ha with potential to extend later on. Average production 123 750 tonnes per month. Water use per tonne of ore process is calculated  at 1.04m3 per tonne.  We oppose this application.

We attend the launch of the first  traditional  communities' tourism route through Koffiekraal and Brakkuil.

'A re Itireleng' (Let's Do It Ourselves) project of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) starts, with MWN and APNCA as partners. This is a community-led approach to to enhancing sustainable water management and green economy for the benefit of prople and the environment in the Marico River Catchment.

In December I&APs are informed by Golder that De Beers Consolidated Mines (Pty) Ltd  had applied for prospecting rights  in 2 more applications  which Golder calls Zeerust A and Zeerust B. These fall over various farm portions within the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality. 


On 23 February 2017  Golder informs I&APs that the De Beers PR for kimberlite has been granted within the Groot Marico River catchment. The deadline for submission of appeals to the Appeals Directorate of the Department of Environmental Affairs  (DEA) is 15 March 2017. Over 140 appeals are submitted. 


 On 18 September 2017 Exigo informs I&APs that SA Fluorspar (Pty) Ltd and Southern Palace 398(Pty) Ltd have been granted IEA (Integrated  Environmental Authorisation) by the Department of Mineral Resources for the construction and operation of the proposed Doornhoek Fluorspar Mine.  We have appealed this decision . The deadline date was 9 October 2017. We await the decision.


The  A Re Itireleng project continues to build momentum with tangible results in Reboile township adjoining Groot Marico and Koffiekraal as the community gardens grow to include not only the production of vegetables but the addition of  beehives and a chicken run. 

For more info on this project download the latest report on our PROJECTS page and also see the Endangered Wildlife Trust's website. 

The RQOs continue and we report on the condition of the river and the water of  Groot  Marico and Reboile, including the ongoing sewage woes, at these meetings.


We support  the Marico Biosphere Reserve  and assist the team  with specific issues.  For more info on this project see their website:

We are advising and assisting with several other prospecting and mining right  applications in key water source areas in the province


2018 and 2019

See the following pages:

Home  page  - 'Update on the De Beers Prospecting Right Application in the Groot Marico River Catchment.

'What do we do? ' - Projects

2020 - 2022

This will be updated  at the end of the year



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