Fuleni Mine is a proposed open cast coal mine against the boundary of the iMfolozi Wilderness in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. iButho Coal seeks to relocate 16,000 people in this unique rural area from a footprint of over 12,000 hectares.
The fight to oppose the proposed coal mine promises to be one of the most bitterly contested battles in KwaZulu-Natal’s environmental history. If we can’t safeguard the oldest protected area in Africa and the oldest designated Wilderness area from the devastating effects of this coal mine, then a dreadful precedent will have been set that threatens other magnificent areas of this beautiful country.
Whatever happens, your efforts will be recognized and admired throughout the world. This fight has ignited a passion that has galvanized the recently formed iMfolozi Community Wilderness Alliance (ICWA), comprising eight founding environmental and conservation NGO’s who are now fighting this mine as one.
The letter below was sent to relevant provincial government officials and the Minister of Environment in South Africa.
African Conservation Trust is a founder member of the iMfolozi Community Wilderness Alliance (ICWA) and an active campaigner for environmental rights and the rights of communities affected by mines and other environmentally hazardous activities. We support the work of our partner organisations, in particular Global Environment Trust and the work of late Dr Ian Player in protecting the iMfolozi wilderness.
Whilst we recognise that there are still many factors under consideration, we are outraged that your department can even consider this application by Ibutho Coal, on the border of an internationally acclaimed reserve, the very place where rhino’s were saved from extinction only a few decades ago. Ibutho Coals’ proposed Fuleni mine will impact almost 16,000 people, displacing them from their ancestral graves, homesteads, livelihoods, schools, and traditional lands. The impact on Rhino Security will be catastrophic.
We are embarrassed that your department appears to be considering the options when it is blatantly obvious that only a handful of selected individuals that will benefit from this disastrous mine.
The mine will destroy the wilderness area, destroy peoples’ lives, destroy the international standing that EKZN Wildlife, KZN and South Africa has as a signatory to the many environmental treatises. It will destroy our belief that our officials have the best interest of the people at heart. It will destroy our faith in your department as an independent arbiter and a protector of the rights of its citizens to clean air, clean soil and clean water. We want to believe that you have a vision of a renewable, sustainable future, for the people you have been mandated to protect, for the environment you have been mandated to protect, and for the future generations that will be robbed of the privilege of wilderness and a peaceful existence.
We trust you will act in the best interests of the people of Fuleni, KZN and South Africa and be remembered for taking a stance for a bold, new, brighter and cleaner future.