Mining in the Mapungubwe area

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Mining in the Mapungubwe area

Post by Lisbeth » Wed May 23, 2012 3:19 pm

gmlsmit wrote:My son in law returned from Mapungubwe a fortnight ago. He was absolutely thrilled with the Park. They sighted 24 mammal species in six days. He said that going on the information tour and experiencing the feeling he had while walking where the previous occupants had lived and worked a few centuries ago was a wonderful experience.

Mapungubwe developed over millenia into what it is today, now COal a foreign coal mining company have the mining rights to mine coking coal for the export market.

The life expectancy of this mine is expected to be between 28 and 32 years.

Greed will now cause the area to be destructed and then evacuated by 2043, it is said that the area will be rehabilitated to its previous state, this has never happened before, where will all the landfill replacing the exported coking coal come from.

All the dust and noise and polluted water is ignored by the decision makers, This is the start of the destruction of the Limpopo Valley.

In a few years from now, people visiting the area will see the same site as they see along the road between Witbank and Benoni and Vereeniging and Viljoensdrift.

As from as little as two generations from now the offered jobs will be forgotten of and the profits earned will be elsewhere and the people passing through this area will be wondering what type of persons allowed this to happen.

All readers are requested to please raise their objection to this in the press and wherever they may be, also write to the DEA and raise your objections.
iNdlovu wrote:Gerhard, could you post the address of the DEA here
CUSTOS NATURAE wrote:Please flood this address with your objections:

DEA Call Center number
086 111 2468

DEA Call Center Email

Switch Board Number
012 310 - 3911

Physical Address
315 Pretorius street
cnr Pretorius & van der Walt Streets
Fedsure Forum Building
North Tower
2nd Floor (Departmental reception) OR
1st Floor (Departmental information center)
Pretoria, 0001.

Postal Address
Private Bag X447

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Re: Mining in the Mapungubwe area - Sat Aug 20, 2011

Post by Bushveld Jock » Wed May 23, 2012 3:20 pm

I heard it tonight on Kyknet eNews (7 pm News) I found the following article on 24News
Mapungubwe area may be threatened
2011-09-01 18:00

Related LinksGroup slams Mapungubwe mining

Pretoria - Many applications have been received from companies wanting to mine within the Mapungubwe world heritage site in northern Limpopo, the environmental affairs department said on Thursday.

"There are a lot," deputy director-general for biodiversity and conservation Fundisile Mketeni said in Pretoria.

Mketeni said the department's decision on whether or not to grant the applications would be influenced by studies already conducted. Many of these mining companies would however have to "bite the bullet" because of a need to "save and maintain the universal value of the site".

Mketeni was speaking at the announcement of a "ground-breaking" agreement which the department, SA National Parks and the Australian mining company Coal of Africa (CoAL) had signed to ensure the integrity of the Mapungubwe national park.

The agreement formed part of the environmental permit granted to CoAL, to start developing its controversial Vele colliery, near the Mapungubwe national park.

According to the memorandum signed on Thursday, the three parties must ensure that the world heritage site will be maintained through "comprehensive biodiversity offset programmes, thereby optimising benefits to local communities".

They agreed to promote alliances in the management of natural resources, ensure compliance with the provisions, encourage social and economic partnership and to provide adequate financial and human resources for effective implementation.

It further binds the three parties to ensure periodic review and updating of biodiversity offset programmes and implementation plans, including ensuring the participation of concerned organisations and communities.

Delisting site

Mketeni was not worried about the delisting of Mapunguwe as a world heritage site due to mining activity. He maintained that allowing mining activity in close proximity (seven kilometres) to the heritage site, was a well-thought out decision.

"We will defend this heritage and make sure it's not in danger. We are not yet in danger and so there's no talk of delisting until further notice," he said.

CoAL chief executive officer John Wallington said the memorandum was a sign that all parties were seeking to find the right balance between conservation and economic development.

"South Africa is blessed with significant mineral resources which are reflected in the significant role that it plays as the core of the economy of our country," said Wallington.

He highlighted that in future, more mining was likely to take place in environmentally sensitive areas.

Mketeni recently defended the department's granting of a permit to CoAL, saying emotions should be put aside when dealing with environmental matters. At the time, he said the department had relied on scientific evidence to make its decision.

Various organisations protested against the development, even threatening legal action should the department decide to grant authorisation for further construction.

The department defended the decision to give environmental consent for the Vele colliery, saying any impact could be mitigated. It said indigenous vegetation could be moved from where roads would be built, and planted elsewhere.

National guidelines for biodiversity, which will provide guidance in mitigating threats to biodiversity, will be concluded in January 2012.

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Re: Mining in the Mapungubwe area - Sat Aug 20, 2011

Post by Poplap » Wed May 23, 2012 3:21 pm

I am very upset about this, and voiced my opinion on the other Forum. How can Sanparks be called a CUSTODIAN if they have agreed to this? How can there be respect for Sanparks if they do this? When it is clear that money reigns supreme over conservation and preservation. Yeah, call me whatever you want (on the other Forum I was so-called rude), but respect is earned. Full stop.

The Oom and I had the privilege of visiting Mapungubwe, then called Vhembe, more than 25 years ago. As part of an outing of my previous employer, the SABC. We stayed in military tents in a military camp. We were escorted by military personnel. We drove around in anti-mine military vehicles. (This was one of the infiltration routes of terrorists).

The spirit of the people who lived their, who were trading there. Awesome and beyond belief. It was then not protected as a national heritage site (it should have been, but that is a story for another day), but the significance of this area were abundantly clear. (Have photos of those days around somewhere).

Now declared a heritage site, developed into a sanctuary - now we allow COal to mine there? And we announce this on national news as a huge celebratory occasion? Awww, how sad! How very, very sad! :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: In fact, words fail me. But somewhere, somehow, Sanparks has lost its main reason for existence. Clearly preservation and conservation are now secondary (if at all) objectives. :-( :-( :-(

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Re: Mining in the Mapungubwe area - Sat Aug 20, 2011

Post by Lisbeth » Wed May 23, 2012 3:23 pm

Lisbeth wrote:If the South African government is ready to give away the past of a great nation so easily, I see nothing good for the future in my crystal globe :evil:
Bushveld Jock wrote:The next shock will be the route they will use to transport the coal to Maputo? Wonder which one will be the best option. :cry: What ever the choice the route will be past Malelane to Komatipoort. -O- Ei
Lisbeth wrote:I still hope that there will be no coal to transport.....even if I know that it is not a very realistic thought O/

We ought to report it to the IUCN :evil: Or at least somebody should!
PRWIN wrote:Hi guys found this web page and had a interesting talk to one of the lodge operators from the area :shock

Interesting Reading \O
Lisbeth wrote:South Africa is often referred to as the "Cradle of Humankind" - Will it also help building the coffin??
PRWIN wrote:
Found this and I belive it is a major issue. COal can't continue till this is sorted out. But just have a look at the figgers. Don't know where they going to get that amount of water from. The limpopo which is dry around there 8 months of the year and some years does not even flow. Underground water ??Bore holes
NGO Coalition appeals water use licence granted to CoAL

28 July 2011

The coalition of civil society organisations that has opposed the proposed Vele colliery of Limpopo Coal Company (Pty) Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Australian mining company Coal of Africa Limited, will today lodge an appeal with the Water Tribunal against the water use licence granted to Limpopo Coal for its proposed Vele colliery by the Acting Director-General of the Department of Water Affairs (DWA), Mr Trevor Balzer, on 29 March 2011.

The Coalition in this appeal consists of the Mapungubwe Action Group, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the Wilderness Foundation, BirdLife South Africa, the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists and the Peace Parks Foundation.

The proposed opencast colliery would be situated in close proximity to the Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site in northern Limpopo, which forms part of the proposed transfrontier conservation park between South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Since it first became aware of the mining right awarded to Limpopo Coal at this important site, the Coalition has also:
•lodged appeals against the mining right and environmental management programme for the Vele colliery approved by the Department of Mineral Resources in 2010;
•in August 2010, launched interdict proceedings against Limpopo Coal and the Minister of Mineral Resources, which application must still be heard in the High Court;
•opposed applications by Limpopo Coal to the Department of Environmental Affairs for rectification of illegal activities at the site. On 25 July 2011, the Coalition filed its notice of intention to appeal the environmental authorisation granted by the Department of Environmental Affairs on 5 July 2011, rectifying the illegal activities undertaken by Limpopo Coal in 2010.
The water use licence granted on 29 March 2011 gave Limpopo Coal the right, amongst other things, to:
•abstract more than 2,4 billion litres of water per year (2 452 800 m3/annum) from the Limpopo alluvial aquifer based on an average of more than 6,7 million litres per day (6 720 m3 per day);
•do opencast dewatering (i.e. pumping contaminated water from the opencast pit) to a maximum quantity of 109 million litres per year (109 500 m3 per annum);
•irrigate land with waste, or water containing waste and dispose of waste into various facilities;
•impede or divert the flow of water in a watercourse by constructing access road culverts in an unnamed tributary of the Limpopo River; and
•alter the bed, banks, course or characteristic of a watercourse by construction of three pipeline crossings.
The Coalition's appeal to the Water Tribunal is based on 17 separate grounds of appeal, a summary of which is attached hereto. Notable grounds of appeal include:
•The DWA based its decision on a reserve determination which relied on inaccurate, apartheid-era population data from 1991. The DWA assumed that only 495 people required water for basic human needs from the particular subcatchment, when in fact there are thousands of people living in the area. In terms of the National Water Act, the reserve must be determined for each licence to ensure that enough water is kept aside for people�s basic human needs, and to maintain the ecological integrity of the water resource.
•The DWA ignored the precepts and recommendations of its own strategic documents, such as the National Water Resource Strategy and the Limpopo Internal Strategic Perspective, both of which contain strict warnings about the water-stressed nature of this particular catchment and advise against the issuing of new water use licences in the area.
•The proposed use of water by Limpopo Coal would not be not efficient or beneficial, since its proposed �closed system� for contaminated water management makes no effort to treat or to conserve water and still poses risks of contamination of groundwater. Instead of treating contaminated water and putting it back into the water resource, this �closed system� would remove precious water from the water resource without returning it for others to use.
•The proposed use of water by Limpopo Coal would not be in the public interest, particularly since Limpopo Coal has a history of non-compliance with the National Water Act and other environmental legislation.
•The proposed mining operation would be far closer to the Limpopo River than is stated in the water use licence application and in the licence itself.
•Inadequate assessment of the risks of acid mine drainage and acid rock drainage had not been remedied by Limpopo Coal by the time the licence was awarded.
•The DWA did not give adequate consideration to the opinions of other authorities who had expressed grave concerns about the proposed colliery.
•The potential socio-economic benefits of the proposed colliery have been overstated by Limpopo Coal.
•The DWA failed to consider the impact of the colliery�s proposed water use on climate change, water security and food security.
The Coalition will file further papers in the appeal once written reasons for the decision, as well as the full record of decision, have been made available by the DWA.

In terms of the National Water Act, lodging the appeal with the Water Tribunal has the effect of immediately suspending the decision by the DWA to award the licence to Limpopo Coal until a decision has been made by the Water Tribunal.
iNdlovu wrote:I'm sorry to say this people, but our national & provincial parks are doomed unless something happens quickly. There was a shocking report on Carte Blanche last night about the Songimvelo Game Reserve, south of Nelspruit, which was supposed to be a part of the bigger Transfrontier idea. A crude fence has been errected accross the reserve to keep cattle and wild animals seperate, of course the fence only causes many deaths to the wild. Local cattle farmers have been given permission to graze their cattle in the reserve and according to the reporter that's all you see in the reserve now. I would assume the right to graze does not come without a fee which is probably going into someone in the Mpumalanga Parks Board's pocket. By all accounts and purposes, the reserve is doomed.
Then we have this mine at Mapungubwe -O- and on top of it all the hotels and conference centre in Kruger. I suspect that the rumors about Augrabies prospecting has some truth behind them.
My question is this, is the idea that parks & reserves are easy game because only the various boards and Govt have any real say over them, so there is little or no competition to the rape & plunder that can go on. It really seems to me that our parks are viewed as areas where the very few in power and management and their close associates can pillage for financial gain. :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :evil: :evil: They can't really do this type of thing on private land afterall????
Just my opinion, I could be way off track.
serval wrote:
serval wrote:I read that the water licence has been approved for the Vele mine and that mining operations are to resume . ... n-20111019
serval wrote:I think the mining interests preceded a national park . ... s/Venetia/
Bushveld Jock wrote:Serval,

I did some googling and came to that conclusion too. I always thought the park was controlled by the SADF and then SANParks took over.

Thanks for the link. I've not read it yet but will go through.

De Beers is very good in establishing conservation areas. In the case of Vhembe Nat Park it was done after the mine opened. My question is do they do it for real interest in concervation or only to have a hold on water resources. In the case of Mapungubwe they did not loose their water rights when handing over the park to SANParks.

Although the quality of water in the park will not run into a risk, will the volume be sustainable for Venetia mine and the new Vhembe mine. Both will pump water from the Limpopo and influence the volume running down stream to Northern Kruger and in away redirect the flow of the Limpopo. :cry:

See a quote below from the link. The Mapungubwe hill is on the original Greefswald farm and together with Shroda farm now part of the eastern section of the National park.
Eight possible sources of water were investigated during the 1980 feasibility studies, of which three
were selected as the most probable: the Glen Alpine Dam on the Mogalakwena River, the Limpopo
River upstream of the Shashe confluence on the farm Samaria and the Limpopo downstream of
the Shashe confluence on the farm Greefswald.
As part of the mining Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), other potential water sources were
also investigated: a wellfield some 20 kilometres to the south of Alldays; subsurface water on the
farm Venetia and the construction of a surface water storage dam in the Kolope River on Venetia.
This search for a sustainable water supply spanned a decade, culminating in July 1989 with the
formulation of a joint venture between the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) and
De Beers for the development of a wellfield at Greefswald, the land being owned by the State and
the mining rights by De Beers.

Following this decision, De Beers purchased the adjacent farm Schroda to utilise the ground water
previously used on this property for crop irrigation to an alternative use. The farm was also
converted into a 4 000 hectare conservation area.

The water availability from this source was deemed to be adequate to meet the original water
demand estimation of 4,2 million cubic metres of water per annum.
serval wrote:I recall that it was proclaimed as a national park in the 1940's under the Jan Smuts government and then deproclaimed after his tenure .
The defence force used the area long before Dongola / Mapungubwe was proclaimed .
I am would assume de Beers owned the mining rights for years prior to the mines development and kept it under wraps untill they needed to utilise it (controlling diamond supply & demand) .
I am sure de Beers has guaranteed water rights untill Venetia mine is exhausted
Richprins wrote:Don't know if this is elsewhere, but from News24 today:

Fury at govt OK for Mapungubwe mining

Johannesburg - Activists are furious that government has allowed an Australian company to resume mining activities close to the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site.

Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa apparently lifted a suspension of Coal of Africa’s mining licence, permitting them to resume mining, the Times reported.

The Save Mapungubwe Campaign, made up of several organisations, said the minister’s decision was contrary to the ordinary procedure stipulated in the National Water Act.

The campaign’s spokesperson Hayley Komen said the minister's discretion to lift the suspension should be exercised only in extraordinary circumstances, which in this instance did not apply.

Coal of Africa’s mining licence was suspended in July after discrepancies in the granting of the licence were highlighted by the group.

The activists fear that the minister’s decision will encourage other mining companies to try to have their licences reinstated.

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Re: Mining in the Mapungubwe area - Sat Aug 20, 2011

Post by Lisbeth » Wed May 23, 2012 3:25 pm

Poplap wrote:Here is the first instalment of the piece of prose I wrote to protest against coal mining next to Mapungubwe, a World Heritage Site and very important in the South African history. I attempted to reflect the time line of Mapungubwe.


900 AD – The Great Ice Age

Huddled around the pale fire, the family of nine was gorging on chunks of mammoth meat. 'It was a good day', Shona reflected. ‘The men’s traps paid off’. She was happy that they came home today. Not only did they return with meat for an army, they also brought dry wood. Enough wood for a fire for the next week, if they use it sparingly, to fight the bitter cold. She has kept herself busy with painting rock art images over the past few days, expectantly awaiting their return. Each sound made her rush outside, to check if it was not her beloved Father, husband and brothers who have returned from the hunting plains. She loved painting images of the animals she so value and adore. She was happy. Apart from a bulging stomach, a warmer body, a new kill meant new paint for her rock art.

Despite the freezing temperatures, she liked living here in Mapungubwe...
Poplap wrote:1932 – The Discovery of Mapungbuwe on the farm Greefswald

Shona liked the van Graans. They were decent people and treated her well. She liked it when young Van Graan came home for the university holidays. It made the Van Graans happy to have their young son around. There was also more venison on the table for all to enjoy, as young Van Graan often went out in the veldt in search of game. She was recalling the conversation she overheard the other night in the house. How young van Graan, whilst hunting on the neighbouring farm, Greefswald, went in search of water at her homestead. How he was served water in an interesting ceramic container and being intrigued by its uniqueness, offered to buy it. How her uncle refused to part with it, but told Van Graan that it had come from a sacred kopje not far away. How intensely interested he was to explore this kopje. Also, just a few nights ago, back in her homestead, around the fire with family and friends, she heard Mowena speaking about the kopje and young Van Graan’s eagerness to explore it.

'Ma! Ma! You will never believe us if we tell you what we have found on that kopje on Greefswald!' The excited voices interrupted Shona’s daydreams. Old and young Mr van Graan were speaking simultaneously, their excited words making it difficult for her to follow. She knelt down on the dark backstoep, trying to pick up on the excited conversation taking place in the kitchen of the Van Graans. She overheard in the early hours of yesterday morning, whilst preparing breakfast for the Van Graans on the coal stove in the kitchen, that they and three other men were on their way to explore the kopje on Greefswald. She knew that this was big news. Slowly the story unfolded, old and young Van Graan taking turns to relay it to the other members of the household.

The young van Graan was first to ascend, and after a difficult climb up a narrow crevice, he discovered a flight of steps that had been purposely impressed into the natural rock stronghold. Soon the group was on the summit of Mapungubwe where they found many ceramic and pottery vessels, glass beads and golden objects. As they continued to dig they came across hoards of artifacts.

'Ma, eventually we realised the extent of what we have discovered!', an excited Young van Graan continues. ‘We felt guilty and wanted to alert the authorities, but the others argued that we should hang on to our find and keep quiet about it. I threatened to go to the police and Pa said that we do not have a right to these treasures, that it belongs to our country’s history’.

Shona breathed a sigh of relief. She knew that the Van Graans would know what to do with these phenomenal finds. She continued to stack coal in the container, realising that tomorrow she will have to stoke the coal stove for an early breakfast.
Poplap wrote:1984 – A visit to Mapungubwe

It was pitch black and hot inside the rip-block canvas army tent in Vhembe. But the exuberance of her experience that morning blinds Shona, fading the tent’s contents, deafening the voices rising from her colleagues from the News Office of the Pietersburg SABC around the campfire, as she recalls the awe-inspiring climb to the summit of Mapungubwe.

At the foot of this sacred hill, “Pik-se-Gat” (Pik’s Hole) was pointed out to them whilst an officer relayed tales of many visits by hunting government ministers. Afterwards they proceeded upwards, through a small crevice with a makeshift rope ladder, hoisting themselves up to a landing from where the ascend continued via a series of carved steps. And then reaching the plateau, which welcomed them with an awe-inspiring panoramic view of the savannah landscape, exposing the land of sandstone formations, mopane woodlands, brooding baobabs, ancient floodplains, unique riverine forests, and the borders of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. But more importantly, the clear archaeological evidence that this was home to a unique nation centuries ago. The soul-stirring significance of this historical site engulfs her for the umpteenth time today.

Although it was hot in the tent, she still had goose bumps. But it was time to get to sleep. They should be up early tomorrow morning for the game drive on anti-mine army vehicles. But sleep evaded her. All her efforts to fall asleep were futile, as she tried to imagine what it was like to live on top of Mapungubwe centuries ago.
Poplap wrote:25 September 2004 – The Official Opening of Mapungubwe National Park

Shona has always enjoyed her bus rides to varsity. This morning was no exception. The 30 minute trip gave her the opportunity to catch up on the latest news in her country and around the world. As a journalist student she knew just how important it was to stay abreast with the latest news. Her mother has always jokingly referred to her as the bookworm of the family, nose forever stuck in a newspaper or magazine. Her eye catches the headline, and an uncontrollable happy smile lights up her pretty face.

“Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk officially opened Mapungubwe National Park yesterday. Peace Parks Foundation, De Beers, National Parks Trust and WWF SA assisted in consolidating the area which has now become the Mapungubwe National Park by facilitating negotiations with landowners and the buying up of farmland. Peace Parks Foundation's GIS laboratory also played a major role in the Park's planning and zoning.”

Shona’s smile was now so wide that some of the other passengers were pointing at her with quizzical looks. A small, satisfied sigh escape from her lips. She closed her eyes. She knows her ancestors must be overjoyed. They were probably still celebrating since July last year, when World Heritage Site status was accorded to Mapungubwe. But her curiosity reigns supreme. She returns her attention to the media release of the Limpopo Tourism and Parks on the opening of Mapungubwe National Park:

”In 1933 the University of Pretoria (UP) received a report of the discovery of a grave on top of a flat-topped hill, situated close to the flood plains of the Limpopo River. Soon after, the Illustrated London News reported the discovery as follows: "a grave of unknown origin, containing much gold work, found on the summit of a natural rock stronghold in a wild region."

The subsequent archaeological project initiated by the UP revealed a further two graves. All three royal burial places contained gold and iron artifacts, as well as pottery and glass beads. The gold objects, including a scepter, bowl and the now famous Mapungubwe rhino, were the relics of a once powerful African kingdom.

Credited as being the first indigenous monarchy of southern Africa, the Kingdom of Mapungubwe ruled the northernmost expanses of present-day South Africa between 1 000 and 1 300 AD. At the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers, today’s borders of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, the Iron Age kingdom thrived amid the lush bushveld and peculiar sandstone hills. The narrowing juncture of the rivers resulted in an annual Nile-type deposit of fertile soil, ideal for the grand-scale farming that was needed to feed the thriving nation over the past decades, large-scale excavations revealed that the Mapungubwe Hill stood at the centre of a terraced settlement. The wealthy community kept domesticated cattle, sheep, goats and dogs. The charred remains of storage huts further reveal that they cultivated millet, sorghum and cotton. Human remains discovered in various graves confirm that they enjoyed a healthy and diverse diet.

In addition to the kingdom's agricultural activities, foreign trade was equally important. Gold, ivory and animal skins were exchanged for glass beads imported via the African East Coast from traders as far away as Egypt, India and China. Skilled craftsmen turned the imported glass beads into garden roller beads, many of which were found at the neighbouring village known as K2. They also produced characteristic pottery, tools and body ornaments of iron, copper, bangles and figurines of humans and domesticated animals."

‘Such clever people. Eating nutrional food, traders, skilled craftsmen and even classism’, Shona thought.

"One of the most important legacies of the ancient kingdom is found in the new type of organisational structure it introduced to the area. The ruling elite separated themselves from the rest of the community, residing on Mapungubwe Hill with their followers living in two villages in the valleys below. This powerful social hierarchy left a permanent mark on the landscape as the hill was modified for the comfort of the few elite who lived there. Large quantities of soil were carried up to create an artificial platform for domestic dwellings and graves. Low walls were built to demarcate the entrance to the hill and to strengthen and define terraces and pathways. Holes were drilled into the rock to anchor house poles.

The changing rainmaking practices of the nation also played a role in the new class structure: the sacred leader no longer made the rain himself. Instead, he called on his ancestors to intercede with God on his behalf to bless the kingdom with rain. The king thus built his palaces on top of the old rainmaking site - the sacred Hill of Mapungubwe - to symbolise and strenghten his new role.

It comes as little surprise that Mapungubwe and K2 were proclaimed National Monuments in the early 1980s. In July last year, Mapungubwe was accorded World Heritage Site status. The Mapungubwe cultural landscape forever changed the settlement pattern and the cultural traditions of southern Africa's Iron Age farmers. The Kingdom of Mapungubwe -"the place of many jackals" - was the most important settlement in the subcontinent. At the apex of its power, it extended over an area of about 30 000 square kilometers and it is believed that up to 5 000 people once lived around Mapungubwe.

When the onset of the Little Ice Age caused drought and crop failure, the powerful kingdom was forced into a Diaspora in 1 300 AD. With time, new social and political alliances formed and the centre of regional power shifted to Great Zimbabwe north of the Limpopo River."

"Little Ice Age", Shona repeats softly. A giggle bubbles up from within, pouring over her rosy lips. “Little Ice Age”. In the Limpopo Province? Where it gets so hot that one’s teeth can melt? Say what??!!

“Mapungubwe Hill - also referred to as the Sacred Hill of the Jackal - is by far not the park's only attraction, although it certainly is it's most famous draw card. The beautiful, gold-infused landscape is already more than enough reason to visit the park. The variety of exquisite trees, game and bird life attest to the biodiversity of the area. In addition to lion, leopard and elephant, rhino were reintroduced to the area earlier this year. Magnificent baobabs still enthrall visitors as much as they did the inhabitants of the ancient kingdom. Apart from Mapungubwe Hill, there are also countless more archaeological sites, San rock art, fossilised termite mounds and even fossilised dinosaur footprints waiting to be explored.

Over the past year and a half, South African National Parks structured tourism infrastructure inside the park in such a way that it stimulates tourism growth in the surrounding areas. Accommodation has deliberately been kept to a minimum, thereby ensuring that tourists utilise the lodges situated around Mapungubwe National Park. As a result of this successful strategy, a number of lodges have been established to cater specifically for the park's visitors. This in turn creates various opportunities for further economic empowerment in terms of the provision of local crafts, stock and hospitality-related services.

A lot of the Park's tourism infrastructure is activity-based, given guests the liberty of engaging in self-drive and self-guide excursions. For instance, the magnificent Treetop Walk and Hide allow visitors to stroll along an elevated boardwalk leading through the riverine forest. A Poverty Relieve Project ensures that the local community benefits economically and through the transfer of skills. Over the past two years, SANParks has created more than 1 000 job opportunities inside Mapungubwe National Park. The services of another 31 small, micro or medium enterprises were also utilised.

It is envisioned that the interpretive centre and museum, earmarked for construction between 2005 and 2007, will create another 300 job opportunities. R47 million has already been set aside for this project. In the meantime, the Park's role as an educational facility is already evident from the almost daily requests from schools eager to teach their pupils the rich history of Africa's greatest ancient kingdom.

Limpopo Tourism and Parks.”

Involuntary tears of joy stream down Shona’s high cheekbones. If she closes her eyes, it feels as if she is riding on a pure white dewy-soft cloud, immediately transporting her to Mapungubwe. The aerial view makes her heart skip a beat. Her Mapungubwe. She knows the place so well. As if she was here before. She hopes that she can convince Solomon to bring her here one day. Perhaps on their honeymoon early next year? To this magical, mystical, royal place. ‘Mapungubwe is mine’, she ponders, ‘and what’s mine, is yours…'
Poplap wrote:10 August 2010 - Work stops on CoAL's Vele mine

“Development work at Coal of Africa’s (CoAL) Vele coking coal project in Limpopo province has been put on hold while the company negotiates with the Department of Environmental Affairs. The DEA confirmed that it had issued a compliance notice to CoAL on August 5 to “cease with activities that are in contravention of the National Environmental Management Act”. The root cause of the problem is that CoAL has gone ahead with development of the mine on the basis of being granted a new order mining right, but without having received the required integrated water licence from the DEA.”

This news made Shona happy. That night she cooked up a storm to celebrate the good news with her family.
Poplap wrote:23 August 2010 - Vele mine rehab to take place concurrently with mining - CoAL

"Coking coal has got fantastic value and very often hard coking coal goes at double the price of thermal coal, and that's the kind of extra value this brings,"
CoAL’s CEO John Wallington tells Mining Weekly Online in a video interview. He goes on to say that "Personally, my view is that Vele will not scar Mapungubwe at all. One of the issues raised is that you have a beautiful area, and I must admit that it's one of the most beautiful parts of South Africa and does need to be protected”.[/i]

Shona cannot believe her eyes. Did she just read that John Wallington is of the opinion that mining will not scar Mapungubwe? Is that possible? She’s afraid that the family will have to eat bread rolls and assorted cold meats tonight. She is in no mood for cooking.
Poplap wrote:1 September 2011 – Memorandum of Agreement

“A Memorandum of Agreement reached between the Department of Environmental Affairs, South African National Parks and Coal of Africa relating to the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site was signed today.”

A deathly silence descends over the dinner table. Our family exchanges looks of utter shock. Sadness. Disbelief. Dismay. Papa drops his knife on his plate. Mama’s facial expression makes her seem mutilated. Mmakhulu looks distraught. Makhulu, Solomon, Buti and Innocentia return their stares to their plates, eating now no longer a priority. The e-News presenter’s voice drones on in the distance. My ears start ringing, my heart starts racing, and uncontrollably tears like the Sashe River run down my cheeks…

‘At the signing, John Wallington, the company's chief executive, said Coal of Africa had undergone fundamental changes in the past year. "We got new leadership. We went from a junior prospecting company to a full-blown mining company that now has the knowledge and skills to mine Vele in a sustainable way," he said. "For us, conservation is a natural resource to be used”, the presenter continues.

‘Fundisile Mketeni, Deputy Director General of Biodiversity and Conservation, said the agreement was the first of its kind and an example of how mining in sensitive areas would be treated from now on. He confirmed that there had been a flood of applications to mine the area around Mapungubwe and the department would have to engage other applicants about an environmental strategy. Some go as far as to the core of Mapungubwe.”

It takes a long time before anyone speaks again. In an attempt to break the awkward, thick silence, Mama asks if anyone wants more salad. We all decline as our appetites have disappeared with this breaking news. We feel raped, like the land. Raped, like nature. Do we as citizens have no say in what happens to our cultural and natural heritage? Is this possible in a country of so-called “freedom”?

"Shona, where are you going?" I can hear the concern in Mmakhulu’s voice. She knows how I dreaded this day. How we all dreaded this day. She knows that we all knew that it was just a question of time. She knows how passionately our family detests the words "commercialisation of our natural resources". She knows that Solomon and I spent our amazing honeymoon at awe-inspiring Mapungubwe. She knows that I am feeling sick, to the point where I find it difficult to breathe, my lungs feeling compressed by the sad news.

“Ouma, this will compromise the environmental integrity of the area in and around Mapungubwe for current and future generations. It will destroy the natural habitat, ecosystems, our cultural heritage and other related aspects of the environment. Mining is a short term plan, tourism is a long term plan”, I respond in a strained voice. I want to say so much more, but emotions and despair overwhelm me. I stumble to the room that Solomon and I share. He follows me. It is pitch black, like coal smog and soot. The night seems darker and more oppressing than ever before.
Poplap wrote:2 September 2011 - NGO Coalition response to MoA between CoAL, DEA and SANParks

Shona woke up with a heavy heart. She dreamt about Mapungubwe, her honeymoon. But soon the dream became a nightmare. Red coal flames were chasing her, consuming her heart, her whole being. Solomon had to wake her up during the night, her childlike weeping disturbing his restless sleep.

The morning paper that she always reads on the Gautrain en route to her job in Sandton brought some relief to her miserable day.

”The coalition of civil society organisations who are challenging the authorisations given to Australian mining company Coal of Africa Limited’s proposed Vele colliery outside the Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site, have taken note of a media briefing held yesterday on a Memorandum of Agreement reached between the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), South African National Parks (SANParks) and Coal of Africa (CoAL) relating to the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site.

While the Coalition acknowledges the DEA’s efforts to secure commitments to ensure the integrity of the World Heritage Site, the Memorandum of Agreement now concluded is no more than an agreement to agree certain biodiversity offset programmes and to establish an environmental monitoring committee to monitor implementation of those agreements. These were already requirements of the authorisation issued by the DEA under s.24G of NEMA in July 2011.

The Coalition is also very concerned about the breadth and scope of the blanket confidentiality provision in the Memorandum of Agreement. Considering that the DEA is concluding an agreement that relates to a national treasure like the Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site on behalf of the South African public, all information around such negotiations and the implementation of the agreement should be public as a matter of principle.

The Coalition has in any event lodged an appeal with the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs against the authorisation issued by the DEA, inter alia on the basis that:

• Granting an authorisation to a company that knowingly contravened environmental and water legislation by undertaking activities without authorisation * having in fact made application for those authorisations * undermines good environmental management and the environmental regulatory system as a whole; and
• The agreements that are being negotiated and concluded between the DEA and CoAL, including a future biodiversity offset agreement, do not comply with the legal requirements for public participation for an environmental authorisation process.

The agreement now concluded between the DEA, SANParks and CoAL illustrates our concern, as it was apparently negotiated without any input from the public, or from the civil society organisations who form part of the Coalition and who are Interested and Affected Parties in this matter. This agreement now purports to make confidential information around the execution of this Memorandum of Agreement. We call on the DEA to adopt a far more transparent process in relation to any future agreements between itself and applicants for authorisations, as is required by law.

An important difference between economic opportunities from mining and tourism, is that the tourism sector’s employment opportunities are sustainable and depend on an intact environment, which in turn, will continue to contribute towards the health of all neighbouring communities and the country’s GDP for the benefit of future generations. Tourism income also stays within a country and does not flow out to foreign investors and shareholders.

There is further significant concern that irreparable damage will be done to the unique archaeological and paleontological heritage resources of Mapungubwe. Rock Art experts fear that the potential impact of dust, vibrations and a change in the water level will impact on the thousand-year old rock art sites surrounding the proposed mine and any unknown rock-art sites will be destroyed. The farms immediately north and west of Vele have been extensively surveyed for rock art and almost every farm has been shown to have rock art. Well-known and important rock art sites immediately north and west of Vele will be affected in serious and unacceptable ways by the proposed mining work at Vele and any unknown sites at Vele will be destroyed should mining be allowed to proceed."

Guiltily the thought once again crossed her mind that coal, like other fossil fuel supplies, takes millions of years to create, but releases its stored energy within only a few moments when burned to generate electricity. And that people all over the world are reliant on electricity - That her comfy ride on the Gautrain was reliant on electricity. That almost everything nowadays was reliant on electricity.

"According to the EMP itself, the open-cast mining activities will result in the "total destruction" of any surface and sub-surface heritage resources and the paleontological remains that might exist. The open-cast activities will, according to the EMP itself, result in the “total destruction” of any surface and sub-surface heritage resources and palaeontological remains that might exist on the land in question and the head of the decline shaft for the underground shaft appears to be at or very near the concentration of at least four heritage sites identified as a “an extended Middle Iron Age site”. Rock art experts believe the area has been insufficiently surveyed for rock art and that the potential impact of dust, vibrations and a change in the water table on rock art in the surrounding area has not been dealt with adequately. The Mapungubwe area is one of only a handful of places in sub-Saharan Africa where rock paintings and rock engravings co-occur in the same landscape.

Threats to the region’s water resources are also significant and include acid mine drainage, surface and groundwater contamination, impacts on the quality and quantity of water on the Zimbabwean side of the Limpopo River, the impact of water abstraction on the boreholes situated along the Limpopo floodplain and the damage and loss to irrigation farmers (with associated impacts on food security) on both sides of the Limpopo River.
The presence of heavy industry in the Mapungubwe area will impact enormously on its tourism and conservation, to such a degree that these activities will have to be reconsidered for the future. South Africa signed a binding document whereby it agreed to be a partner in a trilateral conservation development. By allowing that same conservation area to become part of an industrial area, it is not adhering to the spirit of that agreement.”

The announcement came over the intercom system that it was time for her to disembark. She hastily makes her way to the escalator. Work waits for no one.
Poplap wrote:15 September 2011 - The Decline of the Rugby World Cup

Accessing her laptop, Shona searches for the latest news, when the headline “The Petition to stop Bryce Lawrence ever reffing a rugby game again” catches her attention. “65,500 Facebook users had confirmed by Thursday morning, 15 September, that they liked the site.”. ‘Good!’ is Shona’s instinctive reaction. Like the rest of the nation, she too nervously watched the game on Sunday, almost sure that the Boks would succeed. She supported them, cheered them on. Oh, what a Black Day it was for the family when the game came to an end and with it South Africa’s dreams of progressing to the semi-final.

With a sad shrug of the shoulders, she clicks on the link to the online petition "Save Mapungubwe". Disbelief hits her in the face. As on 13 September 6 742 people have expressed their opposition to coal mining next to Mapungubwe. ‘How can this be?’ Shona shakes her head in disbelief. ‘An online petition that has been running for several months, begging the Government to stop its commercialisation plans of Mapungubwe has 6 742 votes? How on earth is this possible? What a paradox! Does the nation not care about Mapungubwe and its rich cultural and natural heritage too?’
Poplap wrote:1 September 2040 -The Decline of Mapungubwe: The Final Generation

Lucidly I realise the Night Hag is sitting on my chest again, willing me to go to sleep with my dead family. I can see their bodies in the mortuary from the corner of my eye – poor, loving Papa, Mama, Katlego, Innocentia and Aunt Rose. The Hag has been feeding nightly on my black lungs for the past two years. I do not know which I fear most - The starving Night Hag or my lungs starving for oxygen. The eerie red glow of her eyes and her methane stench compresses my chest, devouring what is left of my fighting spirit and energy. But I know that I have no other option but to fight this fury. Like those before me should have fought against coal mining many years ago. Born a fighter, I refuse to give up. My lips are chapped. I am thirsty. I thirst for life. But all the water is contaminated. Life giving water is now acidic poison. Toxic. I feel as if I am about to explode. There is a fire raging in my body. Similar to the coal fires which ignited six months ago, destroying everything in its wake.

I fight the Hag with every bit of energy I have left, but she has been well fed here in our mining town over the past decades. She is just too strong and destructive. I can feel the last bit of energy draining from my body, making me gasp for polluted air. But the only sound that reaches my ears is the black locomotive screeching by with its dreadful horn. Or is it my lungs making those awful noises? It does not matter how fast I run, I cannot get away from the black flames that are consuming my polluted world. I scream in desperation for Mmakhulu and Makhulu, Papa and Mama, Solomon, Katlego and Innocentia to help me, to release me from this overwhelming blackness. But in vain. I beg my ancestors to come to my rescue, but as always these past years, they seem very angry. Annoyed. Sad. Repulsed. Makhulu always said they became like that at the beginning of the month of September 2011, long before I was born. I cannot understand why they hate me so much, why they look at me in revulsion. The howling wind outside, carrying fly ashes, echoes my inner howls.

I hear the clinic’s doctor whispering to Buti, "Son, she’s not going to make it through the night, I am so sorry". To which Buti breaks down, cursing skywards "Damn CoAL, damn the Department of Environmental Affairs, damn SANParks, damn those greedy pigs that caused the land and its children so much heartache and pain. Damn them all!"

I want to tell my poor brother that he will soon join our family. His lungs are black too. I reach out to him… but blackness like the coal clouds here next to Mapungubwe sweeps in, engulfs me. Blackness surrounds me, consumes me. I am doomed. I am gone. Like Mapungubwe, once a legacy and a national treasure which had enormous historical and archaeological significance, as well as the abundant biodiversity that existed in this ecologically sensitive landscape, I am Shona no more...
Poplap wrote:"The life, beauty and meaning of the whole created order,
from the tomtit to the Milky Way,
refers back to the Absolute Life and Beauty of its Creator:
and so lived, every bit has spiritual significance."

- Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), The Spiritual Life, 1937

The writer’s concern relates to the location of the Vele Colliery and the impact that the mining related operations will have on the unique and sensitive landscape within which the mining area falls. The Vele mining area is situated 5.6 km from Mapungubwe National Park, a World Heritage Site, and bordering directly on the proclaimed buffer zone of this World Heritage Site.

The writer appeals to all citizens across the globe not to stand by while a legacy is lost. Make your voice heard, as the support of the public is an integral part of curbing future irreparable damage to our precious environment.

Join the Africa Wild Forum on and access the online petition against the potential destruction of our cultural and natural heritage at or

Acknowledgement to various sources as indicated in this article, and more specifically: ... fault.aspx ... Mapungubwe ... 2010-09-01
• Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly online ... load/89/91 by J Carruthers - 2007 ... 2010-08-23 ... 0&lid=1003 ... s_for_now/
• The Metropolitan Museum of Art ... &Itemid=29 ... g-impacts/ ... apungubwe/ ... e-mine.htm

This article is based on a fictitious storyteller and family members.

Copyright on the prose retained by Elzet Hurter.
Poplap wrote:

I omitted to mention that I wrote this originally for 'SOUTPANSBERG LIFE' during mid October 2011 - a brand new paper with a difference that supports the anti-coal mining campaign in its launch edition - "NO TO COAL OF AFRICA". Mr Schultz shared the draft layout and design and it looks gooood. It inter alia contains aerial photos depicting how the land has already been scarred. :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :cry:

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Re: Mining in the Mapungubwe area - Sat Aug 20, 2011

Post by Lorraine » Wed May 23, 2012 3:26 pm

Following is an email I received today
I have left all the least they are sharing for me


Dear Lorraine,

Thank you for your email about this issue – I will look into it and let Bob know more about these mining plans of an Australian coal company in South Africa.

I am copying this brief reply to your message on to Senator Christine Milne, Greens Senate spokesperson for Climate Change and Energy.
Incidentally, Christine is soon to go to South Africa, for the UN Climate talks that are to be held in Durban. See here for an interesting article critiquing the rise of coal amidst the ongoing global deliberations on climate agreements.

I’m also forwarding your message to Anna Reynolds, International Advisor to Bob. Anna has extensive global networks of environmentalists and Greens.

I encourage you to add your voice the various NGO campaigns on this issue – including here

Domestically at least, there is some good news, the Clean Energy Future climate change package Christine helped secure. For more on this action package (to be tabled today in the Senate), please see here

Kind Regards

Emma Belfield ... ining-firm ... -ahead.htm

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Lorraine Pring
Sent: Friday, 28 October 2011 6:46 AM
To: Brown, Bob (Senator)
Subject: Letter from: Contact

Name: Lorraine Pring
Subject: Australian Coal mine in Heritage site in South Africa
Good Morning

I don't know if you are aware of an Australian company that is going to mine
coal in a pristine area of South Africa. The mine will be built(possibly
already started) extremely close to Mapungubwe National Park, which is a
listed world heritage site.
I am adding a link to a forum I belong to in RSA and would appreciate some
My husband & I visited this area in June this year and were amazed at the
beauty of this untouched wilderness area. We feel so guilty because it is an
"Australian" company overseeing the project to rape the land and all within. ... rum=aikona


Lorraine Pring
Kaleen Canberra
\O \O \O

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Re: Mining in the Mapungubwe area - Sat Aug 20, 2011

Post by Lisbeth » Wed May 23, 2012 3:27 pm

serval wrote:Yet another CoAl project ...
Lisbeth wrote:Very preoccupying :evil: As far as I have understood, it seems that the local inhabitants/ communities are raising the voice against this initiative.
iNdlovu wrote:Brilliant.....three cheers for the Venda people. Serval, please could you try to get the contact details for the independent journalist mentioned in the article.
Lisbeth wrote:We already have everything on him. It is tho one for whom Elzet wrote the article on Mapungubwe!

serval wrote:Just as I thought - NGO's dance to the big corporate tune ... ... ganisasies
Lisbeth wrote:Now we know, that you cannot judge the contents from the look/name of the package :evil: :evil:

I have heard voices in this sense before, but how do they have the courage to say, that they are working for the preservation of nature O/ O/


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Re: Mining in the Mapungubwe area - Sat Aug 20, 2011

Post by Lisbeth » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:33 am

Does anyone have information about the mining in the Mapungubwe area? Are they going ahead with this ruining project?
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Re: Mining in the Mapungubwe area - Sat Aug 20, 2011

Post by Sprocky » Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:06 pm

Lisbeth wrote:Does anyone have information about the mining in the Mapungubwe area? Are they going ahead with this ruining project?
Lis I was reading about this in the Mining Weekly. Unfortunately the first coal has already been mined. O/ I will see if I can find the article and post it here.
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We can choose to destroy or to cherish, the choice is OURS!

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CoAL takes delivery of Vele plant, first coal moved to port

Post by Sprocky » Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:22 pm

24th April 2012

JOHANNESBURG ( – Emerging miner Coal of Africa Limited (CoAL) on Tuesday took delivery of the coal washing plant at its Vele colliery in Limpopo.

The plant, which was constructed by EPE Modular Plant, a subsidiary of engineering consultants ELB, was hot commissioned in February.

CoAL COO Riaan van der Merwe said that the plant had broken new ground with its environment-sensitive design.

The plant was designed to avoid discharging effluent into the surrounding environment and care was taken during the construction phase to protect endangered trees and vegetation.

The plant was completed on time and within budget.

Meanwhile, the company reported loading its first train of coal from the Vele mine, which is situated in close proximity of Mapungubwe.

About 1 500 t of thermal coal were loaded onto 30 wagons in Musina. It would be stockpiled or mixed with other thermal coal in Mozambique.

The coal was produced as part of the plant product test work that is currently being conducted on both metallurgical and thermal coal at Vele.

CoAL aimed to start coal sales during the fourth quarter of 2012.

In its first phase of production, Vele is expected to produce about 2.7-million tons a year of run-of-mine production yielding about one-million tons a year of saleable coking coal.

By: Natasha Odendaal
Look after what we have, for tomorrow, if they get their way, it WILL be gone!
We can choose to destroy or to cherish, the choice is OURS!

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