Credit: groundWork

The Department of Mineral Resource is convening the KwaZulu Natal Mining Indaba  in Newcastle – a town devastated and impoverished because of coal mining.

The meeting at the KwaZulu Natal (KZN) Mining Indaba restricted community participation to only three participants, meaning the truth of mining in the area will not be meaningfully discussed.

With unemployment close to 40% in South Africa we cannot rely on an apartheid economic model of mining that has caused ill health, violence and destroyed people’s environments.

The meeting will be attended by the Minister of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe,  KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikala,  Mayor of Amajuba District Municipality, Councillor Dr Musa Ngubane, KZN Premier, Willies Mchunu, mining companies and a limited affected communities.

Ironically, the meeting is being hosted in areas where there were recent forced removals to make way for mining.

The Kliprand community in Danhauser, Newcastle, had their homes demolished at the end of March 2018, to make way for Ikwezi coal mine operations.

The Kliprand community has been involved in a long legal battle over land with Ikwezi coal mine, their forced removal was unlawful and was done before the case had been concluded.

Communities were placed in temporary iron structures after the homes they had for over 50 years were destroyed.

The forced removals took place despite the court declaring that the community could only be moved once the mine had built proper, stable houses, of the same quality as the communities’ old structures.

The mine was also instructed to compensate people for any loss of income, crops and livestock that could happen as a result of the removal and also ensure that the cultural processes of moving of graves are followed.

None of this happened when they were recently forced off their land.

The community members tried to resist the removal by continuing to occupy the land and building shacks where their strong homes once stood.

This resistance was crushed by the Red Ants, who tore down their shacks and moved them to the iron structures built by the mine, in early April 2018.

This case is a clear example that mining does not bring development, instead it threatens the livelihoods of thriving sustainable communities.

“Economic and environmental justice is not synonymous with mining,” comments GroundWorks coal campaigner, Robby Mokgalaka.

“Jobs promised never materialise. Our experience and evidence shows that mining is violent and the Kliprand community is an example of such.

“Furthermore, mining pollutes people’s water, land and the air people breathe and destroys their livelihoods. Where there is mining there is environmental injustice and people do not live well,” he adds.

“We challenge the KZN Mining Indaba because it won’t bring any development,” notes Sisonke Environmental Justice Network spokesperson Lucky Shabalala.

“Mining is extractive and will make people rich far from here and make the people in our area poorer.

“We ask of government to come back to the area and hear the voices of the people who suffer, not only of those that want to get rich from mining,” comments Shabalala.