Environmental organisation Earthlife Africa has applied to the North Gauteng High Court for a judicial review of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s (DMRE’s) decision to grant an environmental authorisation (EA) for a new coal mine in Limpopo, as well as Fisheries, Forestry and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy’s decision to confirm that EA on appeal.
Earthlife says it is challenging the EA for Lephalale Coal Mines’ proposed new mine owing to no comprehensive climate change impact assessment having been conducted as part of the environmental-impact assessment, including the consideration of future greenhouse-gas emissions that will result from the operation.
The organisation adds that, in granting the EA, the DMRE failed to consider the impact the mine would have on air quality in the region.
The proposed site of the mine in the Lephalale area of Limpopo falls within the Waterberg-Bojanala Priority Area, which is designated as an air pollution hotspot as of 2012 under the National Environment Management: Air Quality Act.
Earthlife states that the residents in the area are already suffering the effects of poor air quality owing to the mining and burning of coal.
The organisation is also concerned that Creecy did not consider whether a new coal mine was the best use of water in this water-stressed area.
Despite the fact that the mining company’s experts found that the villages surrounding the proposed mine would bear adverse health, social and economic impacts, it failed to consult those communities, Earthlife alleges.
Besides, Earthlife notes, the power stations in the area receive sufficient coal from existing mines, while new coal-fired power stations are unlikely to be built, as South Africa is working to procure more renewable energy capacity to meet its climate goals.