Growing lobby fights reserve mining bid

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This article appeared in the Mercury on 10 June.

By Tony Carnie

NEWLY-appointed mining minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi has been urged to stop the controversial plan to blast for coal on the border of Africa’s oldest game reserve and wilderness area.

The Wildlife and Environment Society was responding to proposals by the Ibutho Coal mining group to set up an open-cast mine 30m from the southern boundary of the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in KZN. Society spokeswoman Morgan Griffiths said the noise of dynamite blasting, vibrations and other side effects of mining could have “severe and irreversible impacts on this flagship nature reserve”.

She noted that the noise from Somkhele and the Zululand Anthracite Colliery was disrupting the park, even though these mines were further away than Ibutho’s proposed Fuleni coal mine.

“We have submitted an objection against this application to the Minister of Mineral Resources, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, and have called on him to implement his ministry’s pledge that ‘some areas are sacrosanct – they have such high conservation value that we together commit not to disturb’.

“We have also called on the national ministers of environmental affairs and tourism to persuade the Department of Mineral Resources to recognise the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park as being one of these sacrosanct places, and that Ibutho be required to forego mining within the buffer area of the park.”

The Wildlife Society also voiced concern about the potential for acid mine water threatening the environment and people living in the vicinity, with the further risk of increased poaching of rhino in the park if a mine was sited close by.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the Save our Imfolozi Wilderness Alliance have also lodged objections to the plan.

  • Global online campaigns platform Avaaz has gathered more than 40 000 signatures against the Fuleni mine proposal and will forward them to Ramatlhodi soon.

 

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