The Save Our iMfolozi Wilderness (SOiW) campaign was launched on 1 May 2014. It is a project of the Global Environmental Trust (GET) opposed to Ibutho Coal’s application for an open cast mine that threatens the world famous iMfolozi wilderness area, a sanctuary for the greatest concentration of rhino in the world. The mine also threatens the health of neighbouring rural communities.
The proposed mining area is sited only 40 metres from the boundary of the pristine iMfolozi Wilderness Area, the first declared wilderness in Africa. It lies within the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa, the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park (HiP) home to a vast array of wildlife, including the Big Five.
The Wilderness Area has a strong cultural heritage, dating back to the Stone Age. For the Zulu people, it is an important sacred site since before the time of King Shaka. HiP enjoys a reputation as a major tourist attraction and has drawn visitors from all over the world for more than 100 years. This unique wilderness area with such a rich history can never be replaced. South Africa has thousands of mines. It is time to put soul above coal.
Two coal mines already enclose the iMfolozi Park: Zululand Anthracite Colliery (ZAC) owned by Rio Tinto, and the Somkhele mine, operating as Tendele and owned by Petmin. With this application for a third mine, iMfolozi will literally be hemmed in by mining operations. Open-cast coal mining requires a substantial amount of water, and inevitably causes widespread air, noise and water pollution. All this results in irreparable environmental damage.
Our legal strategy is to object all the way to the South African Constitutional Court. Our first victory was the rejection of the inadequate Scoping Report for the Fuleni mine in September 2014. We will continue these challenges at every opportunity.
We strongly contest the rationale of exporting the coal to China, India and Spain, and leaving South Africa with serious environmental impacts and human rights issues that extend from the local communities all the way to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage site on South Africas eastern coastline.
We are working very closely with the four affected Fuleni villages to support their stand against the mine.
A fast-growing movement is opposing the Fuleni mine, as shown by almost 165,000 signatures collected by the Avaaz petition and the Care2 petition. Despite this broad and worldwide opposition, Ibutho Coal Ltd has not withdrawn its application. GET has the support of the local affected communities as it prepares itself to take legal action to safeguard a healthy sustainable environment and a pristine wilderness, originally created as a sanctuary for rhinos.
The launch of the Grrrowd campaign on 17 November 2014 is crucial for our fight for environmental, economic and social justice. We need to show the SA government and Ibutho Coal that the iMfolozi Wilderness Area is sacrosanct and that there is overwhelming international opposition to proceeding with this mining application.
South Africa has no shortage of mines but a unique wilderness area with such a rich history can NEVER be replaced.