The Trashing of Mapungubwe

Coal of Africa Limited (CoAL), an Australian owned company, is seeking a mining license to permit it to establish Vele Colliery, which will be an 8000ha open-cast and underground strip mine situated just seven kilometers to the east of Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site. This mine will export coal to India and also supply the SA market.

Additionally, there are plans to develop the Mulilo Power Station adjacent to the mine.

The Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) has recently awarded a multitude of coal prospecting licenses on farms near Mapungubwe. Some of these farms are destined to fall into the TFCA or within the footprint of planned extensions to the TFCA. One farm, Machette, upon which prospecting was authorized, actually falls within the Mapungubwe Core Area. The prospect of further mines developing around Mapungubwe is thus real.

The Department of Environment and Tourism (DEAT) and its partners have invested millions of rand in buying up farms that would form part of the TFCA. Additionally, a multi-million rand state of the art information centre, which has already achieved international recognition, is being built within Mapungubwe.

Unfortunately the DME progressed with moves towards coal mining without first consulting DEAT. It is reported that DEAT eventually found out about these plans from the Peace Parks organization, which is assisting in the development of the TFCA.

The fact that coal lies under the ground does not necessarily provide a good reason to mine it. The previous government wished to mine coal in the Kruger Park. Fortunately they were persuaded not to after an enormous public outcry!

It is hoped with sensible leadership and direction, that mining and associated operations can be initiated in a less sensitive area, thus preserving the ambience of Mapungubwe and its TFCA, together with the potential of this area to form part of Southern Africa’s largest eco-tourism destination, which would generating jobs and economic growth for centuries to come.