‘Science’ behind Mapungubwe decision

2011-07-20 13:42

Science, not emotion, was behind the decision to grant a permit to Australian mining company Coal of Africa (CoAL), to continue construction near the Mapungubwe world heritage site, according to the environmental affairs department.

“When we deal with biodiversity, we need science ... and it informs us,” deputy director-general for biodiversity and conservation, Fundisile Mkhetheli, told journalists in Pretoria.

“Studies were done and emotions must be set aside and science [put] upfront.”

He said instead of people basing their judgment on emotions, they should instead look at studies that had been conducted.

Various organisations protested against the development in Mapungubwe, in Limpopo, even threatening legal action should the department decide to grant authorisation for further construction.

The department’s Ishaam Abader defended the decision to give environmental consent for CoAL’s Vele colliery, saying any impact could be mitigated.

Indigenous vegetation could be moved from where roads would be built, and planted elsewhere.

Abader said the company would have to abide by special conditions due to the project’s proximity to Mapungubwe. The mine is about 6km from the Mapungubwe National Park.

Operations at the mine were put on hold in August last year when it was discovered the company did not comply with the National Environmental Management Act. CoAL subsequently paid the department a R9.25-million administrative fine.

A notice of intention to appeal the department’s decision had to be lodged with the minister within 20 days, from the date of the authorisation, which was July 5. No appeals had been received by today, said Abader, adding that the public had until July 25 to do so. 

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