An Australian mining company, Coal of Africa Ltd, has started activities in a sensitive area without a water use license and with what many environmental experts consider to be an inadequate environmental management plan. There is also doubt about the extent to which expert input from interested and affected parties was considered during the Environmental Impact Assessment processes.
Many local communities object to the mine which is in an area in the north of South Africa near the Limpopo River that is special for:
- its high biodiversity – South Africa, Zambia and Botswana have agreed to make the area a Transfrontier Conservation Area
- Mapungubwe National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes the remains of an ancient African city that was an international trading centre in the 1200s, see: http://earthlife.org.za/?p=1121. The proposed mine site is only 5.4 km from the park’s border. See photos below.
The Mapungubwe National Park, where the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers meet (Photo: Nick Hiltermann)
- Coal of Africa Ltd prepares its mining site, 5.4km from the border of the Mapungubwe National Park April 2010 (Photo: Nick Hiltermann)
The South African Department of Mineral Resources seems to be trading:
- jobs in ecotourism, renewable energy and agricultural sectors
- the clean water, air and soil needed for a healthy environment and sustainable livelihoods
- South Africa’s unique heritage and biodiversity
- South Africa’s reputation for honouring its international agreements.
In return for:
- dirty fossil fuel – coal – for an electricity power station that will contribute to climate change
- air pollution – coal dust is very bad for people’s health
- water pollution – coal mines are a source of acid mine drainage
- limited jobs for local people in an unhealthy and unsustainable industry.
Take action against unsustainable mining
On the grounds that CoAL’s Environmental Management Plan is deficient and that the approval of it by the Department of Mineral Resources is unlawful, an appeal against the mine has been lodged by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), the Peace Parks Foundation (PPF), the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA), the Mapungubwe Action Group (MAG), the Wilderness Foundation South Africa (the WFSA), the World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa (the WWF) and BirdLife South Africa (BLSA). The appellants are being represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.
There has been some criticism of the proposed mine expressed by the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs. However, the powerful Department of Mineral Resources has earned a reputation for not accommodating the concerns of other government departments. Ordinary citizens can help to change this by showing the government that they are also opposed to the mining operation.
Join the growing numbers of concerned people from around the world to save this international heritage site.
Spread the word: talk to friends and colleagues – show the South African government that we want it to effectively regulate mining and protect our health and environment.
If you use facebook: Write a comment and join the debate on the Earthlife Africa Johannesburg facebook site.
An existing threat to the area:
An open cast coal mine on the Zimbabwe side of the Limpopo. It is suspected to be an illegal mine as it is within the 100 year flood line and the Environmental Impact Assessment report has not been seen despite requests from the Peace Parks Foundation (http://www.peaceparks.org/Home.htm)