Ibutho Coal has been applying for a license for its proposed Fuleni Mine, which would mine a vast swathe of communal land alongside the south-east corner of the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park and would see open coal pits dug as close as 40m to the park’s fence line.
In the face of strenuous opposition from the iMfolozi Community and Wilderness Alliance (ICWA), of which WESSA is a member, Ibutho Coal and its specialist EIA team have now announced that they are withdrawing their current EIA application (a critical part of their mining license application) in the light of the objections and concerns raised. Ibutho Coal has indicated that they will be undertaking further consultation and studies before revisiting the Fuleni Mine plan.
WESSA and the ICWA have from the outset been vocal opponents of the Fuleni Mine proposal, which would be situated within the buffer zone of one of the most important conservation areas in KwaZulu Natal, would have significant detrimental effects on the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park and would set a flawed precedent for future mining applications.
While WESSA and the ICWA are pleased to hear of the withdrawal of the current application, they remain convinced that Ibutho Coal needs to abandon the proposed site completely and look beyond the park’s buffer zone. The Somkhele Mine set a commendable example by deliberately setting itself away from the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park fence line when it recognised that the park is too important an asset for national conservation and for tourism to risk with mining impacts.
ESSA will remain involved in this case and hopes that Ibutho Coal will understand and comply with the Minister of Mineral Resources’ stricture that “some places are sacrosanct – they have such high conservation value that we together commit not to disturb!”
The ICWA is coordinated by the Global Environmental Trust and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has led the scientific objections to this mining application.
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