A proposed new opencast and underground coal mine is threatening the Mapungubwe National Park and the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site on South Africa's border with Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Coal of Africa Limited (CoAL), an Australian-owned mining company, is proposing to open the Vela Colliery in South Africa's Limpopo Province right next to the national park. Having already obtained a mining licence and a water-use licence from the South African government, the company already started with infrastructure construction in 2010 and is now awaiting the final go-ahead to start mining. A new coal-fired power plant adjoining the proposed mine is also on the cards.
A coalition of non-governmental organisations (comprising the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the Peace Parks Foundation, the Mapungubwe Action Group, the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists, the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Wilderness Foundation of South Africa and Birdlife South Africa) has been leading he fight to stop the development of a coal mine at the Vela site.
Mapungubwe is not only remarkable for its wide range of indigenous fauna and flora and an integral part of the future Limpopo-Shashe Transfrontier Park, but it is also a regionally significant cultural and archaeological centre. Some 800 years ago, a sophisticated pre-colonial civilisation established the capital of Southern Africa's first kingdom here, but the area bears evidence and artifacts of human inhabitation for thousands of years before that going back as far as the Stone Age.
The opening of the proposed coal mine adjacent to the Mapungubwe National Park will : - create air, noise, dust and light pollution; - threaten the quality and quantity of local surface and groundwater resources; - endanger important wildlife habitats; - destroy as yet undiscovered archaeological sites and artifacts; - severely diminish an area of profound cultural heritage; and - threaten local agriculture and eco-tourism.
At a time when climate change is doing irreversible damage to our planet's ecosystems, the establishment of a new coal mine near Mapungubwe is extremely dangerous and irresponsible. We must do whatever we can to stop it!
We, the undersigned, believe that the development of the proposed Vela Colliery adjacent to the Mapungubwe National Park in South Africa's Limpopo Province will be extremely detrimental to the national park, the proposed Limpopo-Sahshe Transfrontier Park, Unesco's Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site, the natural environment and ecology of the region, as well as the cultural and historic legacy of the greater Mapungubwe area.
We therefore ask the South African government and its relevant administrative organs and agencies to withdraw and deny all mining rights, particularly those for coal mining, in the greater Mapungubwe area.
We also ask Coal of Africa Limited and its South African subsidiaries to put a permanent stop to its plans to mine coal at its proposed Vela Colliery and in the greater Mapungubwe area as a whole.
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