This project aims to clarify the many misconceptions regarding different parties affected and or interested in the Fuleni Coal Mining Deal. For example Ezemvelo Wildlife has been accused of being ‘anti-development’ where as in reality they are not against development but rather aim to seek appropriate and sustainable forms of development.
Several questions remain regarding how the Fuleni mine will affect people’s lives, and South African mining history reveals that local communities carry most of the social, health, cultural and environmental costs when mines opened in their neighborhood. Some of the key concerns facing the communities surrounding the proposed Fuleni mine are:
Displacement of people: Not only will homesteads, schools, clinics, churches and livestock need to be moved, but also the ancestral graves will need to be somehow relocated as well. In a nearby community, who has experienced this kind of displacement in the past, found themselves in a situation where their deceased loved-ones’ graves were exhumed and relocated - only to have the graves un-marked and bones intermingled in the new relocated graves. Disrespect of their ancestors in this form is particularly insidious and has left many families deeply traumatized. Culturally and spiritually this is of great concern.
Loss of Agricultural land: There is no telling where and what kind of grazing and arable land will be on offer in the new re-located space. How much of the agricultural land be taken over by the mining, and how many dams and waterways will be taken or polluted by the mine’s practices.
Loss/alteration of infrastructure: There is great likelihood that particular roads will no longer be usable, or will be very busy with new traffic from the mine. In one community a road will pass through two schools and a clinic, making the roads significantly more dangerous for pedestrians there. Electricity and water supply may also be interrupted by development of the mine, how long these interruptions may last and in what way they may be effect the communities is unknown.
Financial compensation: What kind of financial compensation communities will receive for relocation and how these amounts are determined remains undefined. Historically we see that financial compensation for displacement for large development projects such as mines, dams and factories, only compensate for the immediate costs of property, but do not factor in health, environmental and cultural costs that are inflicted during the lifespan of the development.
Raised expectations regarding jobs: There have been massive promises made to the community such as Thembi Myeni (co-director of Ibhutu Coal) announcing to communities that they “will never be poor again” if they are to welcome the mine into their community. Yet what we have seen in the past around South Africa is that only few jobs become accessible to local people in the community but the majority of the positions are technical and are sourced outside of the community.
Impact on Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Wilderness: In this region near the proposed mine there are various organizations that run trails, educational projects and tourism, which are reliant on the authentic experience of quiet pollution-free wilderness, free of human impact. Yet with the development of the proposed mine noise pollution from blasting, trucks, and trains will have a severe negative impact on these educational and tourist industries. Floodlights, noise from machineries, dust fallout will endanger these industries and therefore endanger the welfare of current and future Ezemvelo employees and families.
Historically we see that financial compensation for displacement for large development projects such as mines, dams and factories, only compensate for the immediate costs of property, but do not factor in health, environmental and cultural costs that are inflicted during the lifespan of the development.
Rehabilitation: After the mining operation it has been promised that the land will be fully rehabilitated. Yet the landscape and waterways are altered so drastically in the 30-year lifespan of a coalmine, that ensuring full rehabilitation is impossible. The track record of mine rehabilitation in South Africa is not very good, for example two open cast radioactive uranium mines have remained open in Johannesburg for several years, blowing radioactive dust onto surrounding communities. Acid-mine drainage and other water contaminants have killed most waterways surrounding mines in South Africa, and the long term scale of the impact is almost impossible to rehabilitate.
Considering then the many unknowns in the development of the Fuleni Coal Mine, and the bad track record mines have in South Africa, with regards to social, cultural, health and environmental wellbeing of communities living near the mine; it clear that communities around Fuleni should have access to the bigger picture of this proposed development, and to learn from real accounts from communities and individuals who have experienced mines come and go in their villages and witnessed first hand what costs and sacrifices they ended up carrying in the long run. This is vital to ensure that the communities making the decisions that determine the future of the mine’s presence, need full objective access to all the information at hand, so informed decisions can be made. Therefore we aim to provide a means in which all these various aspects of the development can be examined and witnessed through a creative story-telling narrative that documents current issues and imagines future scenarios.