Limpopo World Heritage Site under threat from coal mining activities

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Categories : Travel news

The Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Buyelwa Sonjica, is concerned about the latest media reports that Coal of Africa has been awarded an unconditional New Order Mining Right (NOMR) near Mapungubwe in Limpopo.

Mapungubwe is one of the seven proclaimed World Heritage Sites in South Africa and this latest development could adversely affect its position.

The area has gained international importance and also stands as a symbol for the highest honour in the country, which is conferred by the state president for achievements in the international area which have served South Africa's interests. The Order of Mapungubwe has four classes and has been granted to the former presidents Nelson Mandela and FW De Klerk as well as 23 other recipients for outstanding achievements.

The Mapungubwe National Park is situated approximately seven kilometres to the west of the area earmarked for mining. As the oldest known large settlement in Southern Africa, and the precursor to Greater Zimbabwe, this site is of regional and international importance. The area is designated as a National Park, a Trans-frontier Conservation Area, a World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve.

It is not known what the effects of blasting will be on the surrounding archaeological sites and graves. Tourism development in the Mapungubwe region will be negatively affected by the non-stop lighting, blasting and noise, which may destroy the sense of place permanently, and with it, the sustainable job opportunities from tourism and tourism growth.

The Department of Environmental Affairs has requested the Department of Mineral Resources for a copy of the NOMR before deciding on the way forward in this regard. Sonjica has also decided to engage with the Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu to look at the mining activities around not just Mapungubwe but all environmentally sensitive areas.

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