CALS has represented the Save Mapungubwe Coalition with our partners at the Centre for Environmental Rights since 2010. The Coalition formed when a coal mine was constructed within 7km of the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site. Coal of Africa’s Vele Colliery posed a threat to the integrity of both the sacred site and the surrounding water scarce area. We have used a number of strategies to oppose this threat, including litigating against the mining company and later entering into negotiations with them. After negotiations broke down in 2012, the Coalition decided to take a different approach. We accepted the mine’s offer to participate on a body known as an Environmental Management Committee (or ‘EMC’).
Mining licences often require mines to set up an Environmental Management Committee whose purpose is to monitor their compliance with environmental obligations. The mining company is tasked with engaging experts to deliver reports at regular meetings and keep members of the EMC updated on the mine’s environmental management. This helps them to monitor any environmental impact and ensure that the mine is complying with its licence conditions.
CALS continues to represent the Save Mapungubwe Coalition on the Vele Colliery EMC and is, as far as we know, the first and only civil society organisation in South Africa to sit on such a committee. The Vele Colliery EMC is very different from a typical Environmental Management Committee. The Save Mapungubwe Coalition is made up of a diverse range of groups, with expertise in everything from conservation to water and even heritage resources. This means we have a number of specialists who are able to sit on these committees and properly monitor the mine’s activities. In 2014, CALS also produced a series of reports based on the Mapungubwe case study.