Open letter from Dzomo la Mupo to attendees of the Coal of Africa Ltd AGM, 2012
Dzomo la Mupo (a community organisation from Venda, South Africa which is made up of community members and Custodians of Venda’s Sacred Natural Sites) has issued an open letter to those attending the Coal of Africa Ltd (CoAL) Annual General Meeting being held in London on Thursday 29th November, 2012. The communities oppose the development of CoAL’s mines in the Limpopo region which are currently threatening their livelihoods.
Coal Mining in Venda
The Gaia Foundation has been supporting the people of Venda, South Africa who are opposing the escalating coal mining craze in the Limpopo province – new and existing mines are threatening their very livelihoods. The Makhado project and the Vele mine operated by CoAL have the potential to cause severe ecological, social and economic damage to their ancestral homes. The coal seam in this area has been known about for some time, but the big players in the mining world have not mined because of the lack of water. Once operational, CoAL estimate that the Makhado mine will use 4.6 megalitres (Ml) of water per day. It seems that CoAL are willing to exhaust the region’s limited water supply – by their own studies, the Makhado mine will use up ground water within just a couple years of operation.
The Mupo Foundation and Dzomo la Mupo have been fighting against coal mining in the area, Limpopo is one of the driest regions on Earth and the communities in Venda are already struggling on a daily basis for access to water. CoAL are yet to be granted an Integrated Water Use License (IWUL) from the Department of Water Affairs of South Africa for the Makhado mine. The impact on an already severely water scarce area will be devastating for local communities.
“Nzhelele means: an eagle that in ancient times followed the elephant hunters and fed on the meat hanging in the trees to dry, it is a word that evokes the rich natural life that existed in this valley in earlier times”
The main rivers flowing through Venda, in rural Limpopo Province are the Nzhelele and the Levhuvhu rivers. The Nzhelele river valley, some 2,436 km2, is the place where the Venda people originally settled and is their cultural heartland. Both these rivers are under huge stress, the Nzhelele River more so. In order to preserve the threatened water sources in the region, the Mupo Foundation are currently working to rehabilitate the Nzhelele River. Today the river supports the livelihoods of the families that farm on its banks and the many communities living in the Nzhelele valley. It also supports a rich diversity of life, including numerous large mammals and other important fauna and flora. CoAL are currently in negotiations with farmers around the Nzhelele dam downstream for the purchase of a percentage of their water rights. The river is already in need if rehabilitation due to overuse, commercial farming and mining, any further stress to this critically fragile ecosystem will cause distress not only to Nzhelele, but the whole of Venda.
The Coal of Africa Ltd Annual General Meeting will be held on:
Thursday 29th November, 2012, at 10am
Tavistock Communications, 8th Floor, 131 London EC2A INT
We urge the shareholders of CoAL to consider the communities of Venda and the fate of future generations not to fund these destructive mining operations.
For more information about communities in Venda and coal mining see below:
- Venda’s network of Sacred Natural Sites is under threat from mining and tourism developments – in September this year, communities submitted applications to register their Sacred Natural Sites with the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA). The Mupo Foundation and Dzomo la Mupo held a unique event: “Mupo Day” in celebration of Venda heritage and cultural traditions.
- Recent film explaining the threat of mining developments on Sacred Natural Sites: Sacred Voices
- In critically water-scarce Limpopo Province in northern South Africa: There are grave concerns for the impact of coal mining operations on communities and the environment.
- Video from Coal of Africa Ltd’s ‘Water Open Day’ as part of their public participation programme: No to CoAL! Venda communities stand up against mine