This article was published in the Eyethu Bay Watch on September 16, 2015.
By Tamlyn Jolly
AS opposers of Ibutho Coal’s proposed Fuleni anthracite project eagerly await news of the project’s progress, the fight has gained momentum as the largest collection of environmental and conservation NGOs ever, joined forces to fight it.
‘Despite increasing international recognition that coal and nuclear are outdated and catastrophically devastating to the environment, people and country, our leadership seems intent on pursuing these options,’ said Francois du Toit, CEO of Project Africa.
The three pronged attack against Fuleni focuses on the environment, community relocation and natural resources.
A mere 40m from Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park’s (HiP) iMfolozi wilderness area, it is thought the mine would have disastrous consequences on rhino safety, elephant well being and would engineer the collapse of HiP’s wilderness status.
A dreadful precedent will have been set that threatens other magnificent areas of this beautiful country
‘If we can’t safeguard the oldest protected area in Africa and the oldest designated wilderness area from the devastating effects of this coal mine, then a dreadful precedent will have been set that threatens other magnificent areas of this beautiful country,’ said Du Toit.
Thousands of community members would be relocated,
while countless others would suffer the effects of blasting and other mining activities.
Regarding resources, Ibutho Coal’s final scoping report, which was accepted by the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DEDTEA), admits the already stressed Mfolozi River system could not cope with Fuleni mine.
Those in opposition of mining are fighting Fuleni under the banner of the iMfolozi Community and Wilderness Alliance (iCWA), whose legal representative Kirsten Youens submitted 70 pages of comments documenting flaws in Ibutho Coal’s draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
‘The overwhelming conclusion is not only that the document is fatally flawed and entirely unacceptable, but that the project as a whole should be rejected,’ said Youens.
DEDTEA and Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) spokespersons were unavailable for comment and Ibutho Coal’s website was recently rendered inactive.