Sustainability, trans-boundary protection of resources and mining : the coal of Africa case
Machaka, Chiedza Lucia Amanda
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This paper investigates the sustainability, trans-boundary protection of resources and mining with particular emphasis on the Coal of Africa case example. It explores the issues pertaining to the sustainability and trans-boundary protection of resources that were taken into account as part of the decision- making process with regard to mining by Coal of Africa in the Greater Mapungubwe area in South Africa. At the centre of the dispute was the mining of coal by Coal of Africa without obtaining a water use licence and other related legal authorisations. This was in violation of sector specific legislation such as the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 and the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004, to name just a few. The importance of the Mapungubwe area is that it has a world heritage site and the mining is taking place adjacent to the world heritage site. Therefore, the mining activities by Coal of Africa should be conducted in a sustainable manner and should take into cognisance the four pillars of sustainability, namely, the environment, economic, social and cultural aspects. Furthermore, the mining activities must also take into account principles of sustainable development. The role of the government in regulating mining activities in areas such as Mapungubwe to ensure trans-boundary protection of resources including mineral resources for the current benefit of the communities and future use. In addition, regional instruments such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, the Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the Cultural Charter for Africa, SADC Treaty, SADC Protocol on Mining, provide for sustainable development. Also, the Revised SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses places an obligation to parties to a shared watercourse to consult before embarking on any activity that may have detrimental environmental consequences. This paper established that to a certain degree economic issues were considered, as mining has the benefits of job creation. However, the failure by Coal of Africa to obtain the water use licence in the beginning could have been avoided. It is recommended that for such future activities an Intergovernmental Mining and Sustainability Forum be established to deal with such issues. In order for such a Forum to effectively function, there is need to amend 2013 MPRDA Amendment Bill.
- Law