Expansion of Ikwezi Coal Mine in South Africa Stopped by Local Community

  • The coal mining affected community in Dannhauser, Newcastle in South Africa led by Sukumani Environmental Justice (SEJ), demonstrated their strength and solidarity by stopping the expansion of the Ikwezi Coal Mine into the Shepstone Lake area.
  • This comes after the mine failed to honour its promises to the community, which were tabled and agreed on during a meeting held on 24 September 2021.
  • As part of the promises made, was that the mine will train and employ local community members before starting the operation; that the mine will fence off the community water source and also that they will discuss and agree on the blasting procedure to reduce impacts in the community.
  • The community was angered by the mine, which attempted to proceed with its operations without fulfilling those promises.

Considered a corporate bully, Nitin Agrawal is the Chairman of Ikwezi Mining Limited (ASX:IKW). Image credit Ikwezi Mining

This is the very same coal mine which wreaked havoc on its arrival in 2018 in the Mbabane area neighbouring section of the community whereby the community was forcefully relocated without accommodation and prior consultation. During the relocation, houses were bulldozed and families were left with no shelter. In March 2021, the community staged a peaceful protest against the very same mine and police were ordered to beat up, shoot at the protesters with rubber bullets and arrest them for demonstrating against the coal mine impacts affecting the community.

On Thursday 29 September 2022, the mine moved its machinery into the community to begin expanding its operation without alerting the affected community and also fulfilling the promises made. But in a true display of unity, the community had courage to stand up for their environmental rights and social justice and pushed back against corporate bullying. Had it not been for the proactive initiative by the community to form collaborative engagements with the local relevant stakeholders in the past, the situation could have been handled differently by the South African Police Services (SAPS) who were present at the scene.

In 2021, after a series of bad encounters with the police whenever the community tried to engage with the mine to address the mine-related impacts, SEJ decided to take different course of initiative by convening the local stakeholders to a roundtable to hold dialogue aiming to develop an understating between each other. This was born out of the realization that the collision course between police and the community was caused by misunderstanding. The engagement forged a convenient way to work with each other without compromising each other’s rights and respect, and to address the mining issue as a collective. As result of the discussion, a committee was formed, consisting of amongst others, SAPS, Newcastle Municipality, other sectors of the Amajuba District Municipality, Danhauser Local Municipality and others.

This intervention by the community and local activists re-emphasized the importance of unity in dealing with corporate bullying; the affected communities in Shepstone Lake are speaking in one voice.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

Source: groundWork

Leave A Reply

About Author

Green Building Africa promotes the need for net carbon zero buildings and cities in Africa. We are fiercely independent and encourage outlying thinkers to contribute to the #netcarbonzero movement. Climate change is upon us and now is the time to react in a more diverse and broader approach to sustainability in the built environment. We challenge architects, property developers, urban planners, renewable energy professionals and green building specialists. We also challenge the funding houses and regulators and the role they play in facilitating investment into green projects. Lastly, we explore and investigate new technology and real-time data to speed up the journey in realising a net carbon zero environment for our children.

Copyright Green Building Africa 2024.