Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems
04 February 2010
The future of the Mapungubwe transfrontier park in Limpopo is in the balance, after government approved mining rights in the area to Australian mining group CoAL Africa.
CoAL Africa announced on Tuesday it was awarded a licence by the deparment of minerals to set up an opencast coal mine and a power station, called Vele coal mine/Mulilo power station, in the buffer zone of the ecologically sensitive and culturally valuable Mapungubwe.
The park borders on Botswana and Zimbabwe. It is also a transfrontier park – the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (with Botswana and Zimbabwe) – and has been officially recognised as a World Heritage site by Unesco.
Park employees said the mine and power station will change the region’s official land use (as agreed and signed by various representative ministers during the trilateral memorandum of agreement in 2006) from conservation to industrial.
“We have been caught completely offside by this,” said Johan Verhoef, the international coordinator for the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Park.
According to Verhoef, the Australian company does not have a water licence.
“The region is very dry, and the ecology here is very sensitive. The mine will therefore have a negative impact,” Verhoef said.
“The intention was to set up a treaty between South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe this year, but with government having granted the mining licence the future looks bleak,” Verhoef said.
Department of minerals spokesperson Jeremy Michaels said he was aware of the matter, but could not respond to questions immediately.