This article was originally printed in the Witness September 3, 2015.
A PROPOSAL for an anthracite mine bordering the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve has been met with outrage from various conservation groups.
In a press release sent by the iMfo1ozi Community Wilderness Alliance (ICWA), director Sheila Berry said no one should be under any illusion as to the “catastrophic impact”the mine’s location would have, both on community welfare and the greater Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park for its 32- year-long duration.
“The mining company’s draft Environmental Impact Assessment Report [EIA], drawn up for legitimising the mine’s operation, has already been debunked by a host of
professionals who have undertaken preliminary studies and responses to their
“We have a local, national and international support base commensurate in voice,passion and capability with all those that fought the St Lucia sand mining proposal back in the 1980’s, the groups director pointed out.
“The difference here is that a huge number of the local Fuleni community are vehemently opposed to it too – and their numbers are growing as they learn the true picture of this mine’s location and the devastation it will cause ”
Speaking on behalf of one of ICWA’s NGO members, scientist Roger Porter of the Global Environmental Trust (GET) said as things stand the Fuleni mine poses one of the “most monumenial threats” to people and bio-diversity in Kwazulu-Natal’s history.
“As a scientist I approach matters thoroughly and factually”, Porter said.
“This mining proposal appears as nothing short of a ruse; to the Fuleni communities as well as the tourism, eco-tourism and sustainable agricultural economies of the region”, he added.
According to Porter, the impact of seismic vibrations from mine blasting on black rhino breeding, elephant stress levels and the abandonment of nests of Red Data birds, to name only a few, was so severe that it threatened the entire southern Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park eco-system.
“The impact the mine will have on tourism, eco-tourism and ‘sense of place’ will be irreversible in its damage.”
“It will definitively undermine the very thing thousands of people come
to experience in this protected area, which after all has held this status for
the past 110 years”, the scientist added.
ICWA’s Sifiso Dladla said opposition was growing as communities across the country became more and more familiar with the “hollow and broken promises” of other mining operations conducted throughout South Africa.
“The days have gone when business can hoodwink local people with promises of jobs and donations that don’t materialise, while they watch their lives disintegrate.”
“As members of ICWA we are ensuring that people who have actually experienced mining on their doorstep are engaging with the Fuleni communities as to what to expect,”he said.
To read more about the struggle to protect iMfolozi wilderness, visit the Save Our iMfolozi Wilderness blog.