Illegal Anthracite mining at Madadeni

Jan 26, 2012

MISSION  01 of  2012

Name of Mission: Illegal Anthracite mining at Madadeni
Date of Mission: 27 January 2012
Aircraft used: Cessna 206       
Pilot: Koos de Wet      
Beneficiary: The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER)   

Objective of the flight   

To photograph and film the extent of illegal anthracite mining operations adjacent to the Nkomati River

Pilot’s report by            Koos de Wet

I met the two passengers at 06h00 in the morning when Michael explained the mission and the objectives to be explored, while I explained the guidelines for the flight from the pilot’s perspective. We took off from Nelspruit Airport with Warren Smart, the cameraman, and Thelma Nkosi, a local activist, in the passenger seats, on a direct flight to Komatipoort airfield. On reaching Komatiport we removed the two rear doors, to enable the video photography.

Illegal Anthracite Mining pic 4
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From Komatipoort we flew low and slow up the Komati River, overflying the mining sites, cleaning areas and the old dumping sites. The severely polluted water was clearly visible, and rehabilitation of the used land is in a bad state.

When the cameraman was satisfied with the footage obtained we returned to Nelspruit where we conducted our debriefing meeting.

Was the objective met?           

I believe the objectives were met because the footage was good and clear, and at the end of the day everyone was safe and sound back in Nelspruit.

Illegal Anthracite Mining pic 3
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Beneficiary’s report by         Thelma Nkosi for the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER)  

In 2010 Nkomati Anthracite (Pty) Ltd began open cast anthracite mining operations on communal land across the road from the Madadeni Community. Mining commenced without the company obtaining a water use licence, any environmental authorisations or an approved environmental management programme.  The community was not consulted in the decision to commence mining, The community is deeply aggrieved at the loss of land which was used for grazing, a school playground, traditional ceremonies amongst other uses.

Illegal Anthracite Mining pic 2
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In the process of mining at Madadeni, the mining company illegally mined through a tributary to the Komati River, an international river, and a number of wetlands. In the wet season, the water backed against the wall of the mine. In the recent floods in the area, the mine was flooded and, it is believed, polluted mine water poured out of the opencast mine into the Komati.

In 2011 the community launched an appeal against the decision by the Department of Mineral Resources to authorise the amended environmental management programme (EMPR). The EMPR was woefully inadequate and relied on outdated and redundant expert reports. As a result of this appeal, the mining company sought to meet with and negotiate with the community. These negotiations are currently underway.

Illegal Anthracite Mining pic 5
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The beautiful footage from the flight formed part of a movie about the colliery in Madadeni and the community ( HYPERLINK “http://cer.org.za/themes/mining/communities/http://cer.org.za/themes/mining/communities/) that was used, along with three other films about other mines around the country, in the Mining-Environment-Community meeting held in Cape Town on 7 & 8 February 2012.

The Mining-Environment-Community meeting was organised by the Mining-Environment-Community Alliance in response to a strong call from communities to meet and engage with other communities similarly affected by the activities of inappropriate and unlawful mining. This was an extremely important meeting that brought together community representatives from communities detrimentally affected by mining, all across the country.  These community representatives came together to discuss the formation of a community network to strengthen community resistance to unlawful and inappropriate mining and to demand the recognition and respect of their rights to be consulted and to have their environment protected.

Illegal Anthracite Mining pic 6
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Was the objective met?          

Our cameraman was able to get beautiful footage of the mining site and its context and this footage was used in the film. This film, and the other three films screened at the event, played a hugely important part in the community meeting, highlighting the key issues communities deal with and sparking important debate and discussion about how communities can tackle these issues in the future.

We were also able to get clear images of the current state of the mines and their situation adjacent to the community.

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