The small town of Kleinsee in Namaqualand is set to swap its diamonds for another luxury: oysters. A mining rehab centre with a difference is schooling locals in the art of oyster farming and promising to put the small town on South Africa's culinary map.
Mining giant De Beers has closed down operations in Kleinsee on the west coast. The project currently provides a handful of much-needed jobs and employment opportunities are set to increase. Instead, a mining rehab centre with a difference is training locals in the art of oyster farming.
The project started when De Beers tried to find an alternative purpose for the pumps and waterways that used to supply its now-defunct operations. One of the old mine ditches was converted into a dam, fed by this waterway, and so Kleinsee Mariculture was born. Mariculture is a specialized branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of marine organisms for food and other products in the open ocean, an enclosed section of the ocean, or in tanks, ponds or raceways which are filled with seawater.
Alistair Joshua and his team hope to put Kleinsee and the succulent Namaqualand-grown oysters on the lips of everyone from the Cape to Namibia. "The target is getting approximately 12 million 14mm seed oysters out annually. This excludes the other sizes we also hope to do," said Joshua, Kleinsee Mariculture Production Manager.
The project currently provides a handful of much-needed jobs and employment opportunities are set to increase. “We're getting a sorting machine soon, and after that we can only go forward. We won't be looking back at all. We'll be constantly moving forward,” said Joshua.
Having already secured supply deals in Luderitz, Namibia, Joshua now has his sights set on distributors in Knysna. If all goes according to plan, visitors to the Garden Route could soon be slurping on oysters, harvested in Namaqualand.
Kleinsee is located within the Central Namaqualand Coast SKEP geographic priority area.