The Crowd claims
Ibutho Coal and the South African government have to stop with mining plans that put the land of the Fuleni people in danger and threaten the world’s greatest concentration of rhinos.
Next legal action of the crowd
Preparation for filing an Interlocutory Application to compel against Ibutho Coal and the Department of Mineral Rights. This is scheduled for Q4 of 2016. To cover the ongoing cost for preparation of this winnable environmental case, the crowd needs US $25,750 (23.000 euro).
Ibutho Coal has put in an application for open cast coal mining on the border of the pristine iMfolozi Wilderness Area. This area is part of the last 1% of true wilderness, with the greatest concentration of rhinos in the world. Mining will result in irreparable environmental damage, will develop water shortage and will create large amounts of dust and noise. Permitting mining will put the health and daily food of the surrounding communities under threat and most people will be forced to leave their homeland. Their lives will be mined away. For just a few of them there will be work left … in the mining industry breaking down their own land.
Ibutho Coal applied in January 2014 for the mining rights application to construct an open cast coalmine from the Department of Mineral Rights. In March 2014 the Draft Scoping Report was made available. The people of Fuleni have been encouraged in their legal fight by a neighboring community (the Somkhele) where a coalmine was installed. Devastating effects have been witnessed there.
Case background and who The Crowd supports
January 2014 Ibutho Coal applied for mining rights to construct an open cast coal mine. The iMfolozi Wilderness lies within the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa, home to a vast array of wildlife, including the Big Five. The area currently supports the greatest concentration of rhinoceros in the world. It also has a strong cultural heritage, dating back to the Stone Age with a strong connection to Zulu people, including King Shaka. Two other mining operations are already working nearby, with devastating effects on nature and people, not to forget the water shortage for everyone. Targeted legal action can push Ibutho Coal back and will help put an end to mining in South Africa at the expense of people, their cultural heritage, and nature in the form of animals like rhinos.
At a neighboring community the Somkhele open cast coal mine has been built. Not only do they suffer from devastating effects such as noise and dust, but also their communications with the mining company have been ignored. Additionally, committees representing communities have been frightened in general by the death of Amadiba Crisis Committee chair Bazooka Radebe in the Wild Coast community of the Eastern Cape in April 2016 — after which the Australian mining company MRC cancelled its application to mine in July 2016.
EDCL (Environmental Defender Law Center) is the NGO/nonprofit that The Crowd Versus works together with for this case. The rural citizens of the iMfolozi Wilderness Area are supported by Global Environmental Trust (GET), a South African nonprofit organization that assists communities in areas of environmental significance affected by bad planning and unscrupulous environmental practices. EDLC supports GET to protect the human rights of individuals and communities in developing countries who are fighting against harm to their environment.
Reports are that the Umfolozi Bridge is going to receive approval. It is critically important to stop the construction of this bridge which, undoubtedly, will open up Fuleni to mining and, in all likelihood, allow Tendele and Ibutho Coal to become one operation.
It seems as if the mining company is no longer pursuing its plan to build an open cast coal mine on the border of the pristine iMfolozi Wilderness. On behalf of Global Environmental Trust, Kirtsen Youens explains: “We would love to say “ WE WON!” but we don’t know this for sure and we don’t want to tempt fate. In the meantime, there are plans to construct a four-lane bridge over the iMfolozi River, joining the Fuleni and Somkhlele communities. We have been concerned that there is something fishy about the whole thing and the communities (on the whole) are opposing it. Yesterday it came to our attention that another mine, the Tendele coal mine situated at the nearby Somkhele village, has plans to expand – into the area bordering the iMfolozi Wilderness, slightly further north east from the from the area Ibutho Coal wants to mine! Already we are meeting with our team of community groups, experts and NGOs to stop this too.”
Ibutho Coal’s mining license application (which is valid for only one year) has expired. Although the Department of Mineral Resources was asked whether a new one has been lodged with them, a reply was not received and the assumption is that a new one has not been lodged.
The Environmental Impact Assessment has lapsed as the project did not begin within three years of the EIA process having begun. Therefore, Ibutho Coal will need to start over again with a new EIA process. This is both good and bad. Good because it will mean a delay. Bad in that the authorizing department for mining applications in the EIA process is no longer the Department of Environmental Affairs but, sadly, the Department of Mineral Resources. This new legislation was promulgated at the end of 2014 and has given DMR the power to decide not only the Mining License application but also the EIA application. The previous EIA application process that Ibutho Coal was following was under the former EIA regulations which meant that the DMR decided on the mining license application and the DEA decided on the EIA. If the EIA was not approved, the mining license could not be granted. Under the 2014 regulations the DMR decides on both.
Nothing was heard from the applicants, the DMR or the applicant’s consultants since June. The Fuleni people therefore are currently playing a waiting game.
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