MAC: Mines and Communities

Let there be No CoAL for South Africa!

Published by MAC on 2011-12-20
Source: Gaia Foundation (2011-12-12)

Community groups appeal against UK-listed company.

Previous article on MAC: CoAL faces community wrath over water

Silent Protest Held in Support of Communities of Limpopo

Gaia Foundation Press Release

15 December 2011

Yesterday in Central London a silent protest took place outside the General Meeting of Shareholders of Australian mining company, Coal of Africa Ltd (CoAL). The protest was held in solidarity with the communities of the Limpopo Province, South Africa, who face untold ecological, social and economic damage to their ancestral homes should the mine go ahead.

Coal of Africa demonstration in London December 2011
Silent protest outside CoAL's General Meeting of Shareholders,
London December 2011 Source: Gaia Foundation

The CoAL project which will affect this region is known as the Makhado Project. It is in addition to one other mine owned by the company in Limpopo Province, known as Vele, and a further two in the neighbouring Mpumalanga province. Yesterday's meeting preceded CoAL's Conditional Placing of Shares on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange plc, which is set to take place today.

Liz Hosken, founding director of The Gaia Foundation took part in the protest: "We are here in support of the local communities and especially the Makadzhis- the guardians of the sacred sites and sacred lands of Venda in Limpopo Province. These are the spiritual leaders of the people whose responsibility it is to protect their ancestral homeland, which these coal-mining projects will destroy if they go ahead. The company haven't even carried out proper studies, but the one thing that they have admitted is that the underground water will be finished within two years. So there isn't even enough water for their own projects; let alone for life itself. If there is no water, there is no life. This is truly Ecocide."

Earlier this week twelve civil society groups and community members from the Limpopo Province sent a letter to over fifty shareholders and potential investors of Coal of Africa (CoAL) demanding that they reconsider their plans to support the company - and specifically the Makhado Project.

The letter set out a number of grave concerns relating to CoAL's handling of the Makhado project and their neighbouring Vele mine. These included a flawed public participation process; failure to provide adequate answers to questions raised by the community; no water licence; and an insufficient Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA), Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management Plan.

The letter states: "We have a responsibility to our ancestors and to our children to stop the destruction of our ancestral lands. You would do the same if someone wanted to mine your home. Please think about that".

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Notes to Editors:

Watch a 2-minute film about yesterday's protest and what the mine will mean for the lives of the communities of Limpopo here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZG0Sc9NTRY&feature=youtu.be

For further information please contact Rowan Phillimore at The Gaia Foundation, London on +44 207 428 0054
or A.M. Mudau, Dzomo la Mupo, South Africa +27 79 412 2666

 

The letter which was sent to CoAL shareholders and investors earlier this week has been based on evidence and analysis drawn from a research report commissioned by an alliance of groups, to look into the impacts of coal mining.

The report Mine Not - Waste Not: A preliminary critique of aspects of the CoAL Makhado Colliery Project EIA and EMP is available on the following websites: The Gaia Foundation http://www.gaiafoundation.org and London Mining Network www.londonminingnetwork.org.

Coal of Africa's website states today that, ‘subject to obtaining shareholder approval to issue the Conditional Placing Shares, the Company will apply for admission of the Conditional Placing Shares to trading or quotation and listing of the Conditional Placing Shares on the AIM market of London Stock Exchange plc ("AIM") on 15 December 2011 and on the Main Board of JSE Limited ("JSE") on 20 December 2011. Accordingly, the anticipated settlement date for the Conditional Placing Shares on AIM is 15 December 2011'. www.coalofafrica.com


Civil society groups demand global corporations reconsider investment in Coal of Africa mining project, South Africa

Gaia Foundation Press Release

12 December 2011

Today, civil society groups and community members from the Limpopo Province of South Africa sent a letter to over fifty shareholders and potential investors of Coal of Africa (CoAL) demanding that they reconsider their plans to support the company - and specifically the Makhado Project - in Venda, Limpopo because of the damaging impact that it will have on their ecosystem and livelihoods.

The letter, which is endorsed by 12 local groups, has been sent to shareholders and potential investors including M & G Investments (part of Prudential), JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and ArcelorMittal, in advance of Coal of Africa's General Meeting of Shareholders, which takes place in central London this Wednesday, 14th December.

CoAL's Makhado project, which is one of two in the Limpopo region, will deplete the underground water from the area in Venda by 2014, by the company's own admission. In addition to this, the letter draws attention to a number of alarming issues relating to CoAL's handling of the Makhado project and their neighbouring Vele mine. These include the 32 criminal charges brought against the company; a flawed public participation process; failure to provide adequate answers to questions raised by the community; no water licence; and an insufficient Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA).

Moses Mudau, spokesperson for Dzomo la Mupo, a community-based organisation who have signed the letter, states: "CoAL started prospecting in the nearby Vele mining operation without public participation, without complying with the National Environmental Management Act, clearing the area without permission and building an airstrip without permission, demonstrating a total disregard for South Africa's environmental legislation.

"Now, with the Makhado Project, they began prospecting without a water-use licence, when they started taking coal out of the sensitive, water-scarce area in the Limpopo Valley. They refuse - despite it being illegal to do so - to give the interested and affected parties copies of their prospecting permit and their Environmental Management Programme for Makhado".

"By the company's own admission, the underground water of the area will be depleted by 2014, without taking into consideration the huge water demands of neighbouring mining projects. They do not even consider the needs of the ecosystem nor the communities who depend on it for their lives.

The concerns of Dzomo La Mupo's mirrors that of countless communities across South Africa, particularly those in Limpopo , where mining projects are growing at an alarming rate and with little regard for the communities or ecosystems which they threaten to destroy.

The letters closing statement sets out the signatories position: "We pledge to stop the Makhado CoAL Project from going ahead. We alert you to the fact that what you might consider to be a profitable investment will cause the permanent destruction of our ancestral homes, ecosystems, livelihoods and the future options for our children. Without water there is no life. Without land we have no livelihoods".

Notes to Editors:

Attached [below] you will find a copy of the letter which was sent today to shareholders and potential investors of CoAL. The letter is based on evidence and analysis from a research report commissioned by an alliance of groups, to look into the impacts of coal mining. The report Mine Not - Waste Not: A preliminary critique of aspects of the CoAL Makhado Colliery Project EIA and EMP is available on the following websites: The Gaia Foundation http://www.gaiafoundation.org/sites/default/files/MineNotWasteNot_december2011_0.pdf and the London Mining Network www.londonminingnetwork.org.

For further information please contact Rowan Phillimore at The Gaia Foundation on 0207 428 0054

Coal of Africa

The General Meeting of Shareholders of Coal of Africa Limited ABN 98 008 905 388 will be held at 11.00 am (London time) on 14 December 2011 at Tavistock Communications, 8th Floor, 131 Finsbury Pavement, London EC2A 1NT.

Coal of Africa are involved in four projects in South Africa: two in Limpopo Province of which one is the Makhado Project and two in Mpumalanga. The two in Mpumalanga province are the Zonnebloem Mine and Mooiplaats, in the headwater's of the Vaalriver, which provides water to the whole of Gauteng province.


Open letter to Shareholders and Potential Investors of Coal of Africa Ltd (CoAL)

12th December 2011

We represent 12 local groups from Limpopo Province, South Africa, where Coal of Africa Ltd (CoAL) has two of its four coal mining projects, one being the Makhado Project. Our alliance ranges from communities to farmers and ranchers of all cultures and incomes,
representing thousands of people whose lives are at stake due to these projects in our province.

This letter outlines the reasons why we ask you NOT to invest in Coal of Africa Ltd (CoAL), or any of their projects, including Makhado Project. Investing in CoAL would create a social, ecological and economic disaster for those of us whose homes and livelihoods would
be destroyed if these projects were to go ahead. It is a flawed investment and totally unjust. Our analysis is based on the research we commissioned from an international expert in the impacts of coal mining. The report, "Mine Not - Waste Not: A preliminary critique of aspects of the CoAL Makhado Colliery Project EIA and EMP" is widely available1 together with two of the letters written by community groups to South African government ministries, clarifying their concerns and grievances regarding the Makhado Project.

These are some of the most critical reasons why you should NOT invest in Coal of Africa Makhado Project:

1. Refusal to provide vital information to affected parties - CoAL has refused to give affected parties the Environmental Management Programme or their prospecting permit. This is unlawful as this information must be available to the public.

2. Flawed public participation process - This process has been chaotic, ad hoc and inadequate, resulting in an incomplete application process.

3. Failure to give answers to vital questions - The concerns raised by the many affected parties have not been addressed, which is building growing discontent amongst the local communities and affected parties towards CoAL.

4. No water licence and not enough water in the area - The water studies for the project are incomplete, the water licence has not been granted and, by the company's own admission, the underground water will be decimated by 2014. This is without taking into account the other mining project's considerable water needs or the needs of the ecosystem and the communities who depend on it for their lives. There is not enough water for one of CoAL's projects, let alone the others. This defies logic.

5. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP) incomplete and should therefore be rejected - By the company's own admission, these fundamental documents are incomplete and CoAL needs more time to finalise them, for "a project of this magnitude and complexity".

None of the concerns raised by affected parties have been addressed or included in these documents. The required studies have not been completed and there are omissions of vital information and many speculative statements. Thus these documents should be rejected. Anyway, the company has now run over the stipulated date for completion.

6. The Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) deficient - This analysis makes unsubstantiated assumptions and does not take the severe ecological or socio- economic implications into account. Thus it completely underestimates the liabilities of the project.

7. A Bad Investment - Firstly, the communities and local groups are determined to stop this project because it will destroy their lives and livelihoods. Local resistance against the project is growing as more people come to terms with the impact that this will have upon them and their environment.

Secondly, as is evident from the catalogue of omissions, CoAL is a young, inexperienced company, lacking in ability to deal with people, meet the necessary legal requirements or carry out the required research to assess the viability of a project. This makes them a high-risk investment.

We pledge to stop the Makhado CoAL Project from going ahead. We alert you to the fact that what you might consider to be a profitable investment will cause the permanent destruction of our ancestral homes, ecosystems, livelihoods and the future options for our children.

Without water there is no life. Without land we have no livelihoods. We have a responsibility to our ancestors and to our children to stop the destruction of our ancestral lands. You would do the same if someone wanted to mine your home. Please think about that.

Yours Sincerely

Signed by the following local groups from Limpopo Province:

Dzomo la Mupo
Mupo Foundation
Mudzi wa Vhurereli ha Vhavenda
Ndima Community Services
Thikho ya Mvelele
Vhembe Traditional Healers Forum
Cultural Biodiversity Group
Vhufa ha Vhangona
Vhembe Traditional Healers
Vhangona National Cultural Movement
Soutpansberg District Agricultural Union
Makhado Action Group

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