Mapungubwe and Vele Mine 01 of 2010

Apr 20, 2010

MISSION  10  of  2010

Name of Mission: Mapungubwe and Vele Colliery 01
Date of Mission: 20th April 2010

Aircraft used: Cessna 182

Beneficiary: Nick Hiltermann  –  Chairman of the Mapungubwe Action Group

Pilot: Wouter van Ginkel

Beneficiary’s story of the mission   :   By  NICK  HILTERMANN

Objective of the Flight:

To take aerial pictures of major road and site developments within the Vele Colliery site which lies just 5.4 km from the border of Mapungubwe National Park & World Heritage Site. These pictures are required to help motivate an interdict against further developments prior to a full judicial review of the process leading up to the award of the mining license.

Bateleurs pilot Wouter van Ginkel met Johan Verhoef, the International Co-ordinator of the Greater Mapungubwe TFCA, Peter Fitt and myself at Wonderboom airfield on Tuesday 20th April.  Wouter had very kindly volunteered to fly us up to the Vele Colliery site which is situated on 8600ha and just 5.4 km to the east of the border of Mapungubwe National Park & World Heritage Site. The mine is owned by an Australian company which calls itself Coal of Africa.

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The mining license for Vele Colliery was awarded by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) in the face of much opposition from other government departments, leading NGO’s, environmentalists, local residents and many community members.  Furthermore, the EMP that was, in the opinion of independent experts, fatally flawed, appears to have been accepted by the DMR without any cognisance given to the many critical issues raised via expert I&AP inputs.  On the basis of procedural and substantive issues relating to the awarding of the mining license and the approval of what is considered a fatally flawed EMP, a coalition of NGO’s, including the Mapungubwe Action Group, has decided to refer the matter for judicial review.  Subsequent to the mining license being awarded, the Department of Environment and Water (DWEA) refused permission for the mine to build a major access road as well as above ground fuel storage tanks, a decision which the mine is appealing.

The purpose of this mission was therefore to fly over the site and to take photographs of any developments which could be used for the purposes of an interdict.  Additionally, video footage of Mapungubwe, and the wonderful confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers would be made for a French TV outfit.

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It was evident from the way that Wouter flew the little Cessna 182 that  despite spending his days flying heavy metal in the form of a Boeing 737, he is still a pilot who loves ‘real’ flying.  There was weather on route and the big nimbus clouds were truly spectacular, as were the overhead views of the Waterberg, which itself is under such great threat from coal mining.

The flight over the mine site produced evidence of major internal roads being prepared as well as the clearing of two large sites.  Much heavy equipment was on site and earthworks were underway.  The pictures came out well and will provide much needed evidence to the legal team fighting this matter.

As SAA captains are usually limited to landing at airports, it did not take much persuasion to convince Wouter to touch down on a the bush airstrip of a friend just outside of Alldays. The Cessna’s landing was curiously observed by the locals, which included three giraffe, a family of warthog and some impala. After tea and rusks our intrepid party again took to the air, dodged some wonderful storm clouds and touched down safely at Wonderboom just as the heavens eventually opened.

A very BIG THANK YOU to both Wouter and Bateleurs for having made this flight possible.

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