London (AIM)-listed Coal of Africa Limited (CoAL) said last Wednesday that it would, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), consider the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) report and its recommendations regarding its Vele colliery near Mapungubwe. The report was published at Unesco’s 36th sitting in Russia last week.
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For background on CoAL, see, and
Gaia Statement in response to conclusions from the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape (South Africa), 29th June 2012
The Gaia Foundation commends the recently published UNESCO report on the State of Conservation of World Heritage Properties Inscribed on the World Heritage List(1 June 2012), which exposes the continued and increasing threat that the Vele mine, operated by Coal of Africa Ltd, poses to the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape (C 1099).
The report is categorical in its findings that: open-cast mining would irreversibly damage the area and the cultural landscape of Mapungubwe; that the vast water requirements for coal mining is not viable in an area which has severe water shortages; and that a buffer zone must be implemented and respected in order to protect the site from permanent destruction by open-cast mining.
Mapungubwe is a place of critical ecological, cultural and spiritual importance not only for the local community, but internationally and for future generations. Coal mining at the Vele mine will not only irreversibly damage the site and its surroundings but it will desecrate the cultural landscape. Mapungubwe’s preservation hangs dangerously in the balance by operations at the Vele mine and by the proposals for developing further mines in the area. As stated in the report – there are currentlyaround twenty approved prospecting rights relating to the coal seam that runs under the nationally adopted buffer zone of 2009. If Mapungubwe is to be saved, it must be recognised as a no-go area for any development, especially mining and extraction.
“The mining companies themselves admit that there is not enough water to extract coal, which is why there has been no mining to date. Those pushing to mine now, like Coal of Africa Ltd,are wanting to grab what they can until the water runs out. This will devastate both human communities and the ecosystem. Where there is no water, there is no life. This is breathtakingly irresponsible. The local people will never let this happen and we will support them to resist this totally unethical behaviour”. Liz Hosken Director,  The Gaia Foundation.
The Gaia Foundation (Gaia ) works with indigenous communities who are facing growing threats from the global surge of mining and extractive industries.  Gaia recently published a report on the devastating impact that the new wave of landgrabbing for the extractive industries is having on communities and the Earth.You can download the The Pandora’s Box Report at
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