Mining vs the environment

Tonight’s 50/50 show focused entirely on the Vele coal mining happening on the borders of Mapungubwe (which I’ve written about before). The show got lots of the major players on set to debate the multitude of issues, and some interesting opinions were voiced (and disagreed with). Unfortunately the Department of Minerals and Energy STILL has not come to the party and wasn’t part of the debate. The fact they weren’t there adds – in my opinion – to the increasing perception that they are both incompetent and irresponsible.

I’m not going to re-iterate all my thoughts on the various points discussed, but I’d like to ponder the thought that was raised about the fact that mining and the environment can co-exist. A number of the speakers spoke to this idea and one went as far as suggesting that players on both sides need to approach this matter knowing that they need to find a middle ground.

Now usually, I’m an advocate for compromise, but not in this case. I’d like to propose that, these days, it’s the environment’s turn to win. I don’t believe that the two can co-exist at all and I don’t believe there needs to be a middle-ground. Mining has been raping our planet to provide for our ever-growing and insatiable need for ‘stuff’ at the expense of the planet for too many years now. There are so few untouched and environmentally important pieces of the planet left, that for once, they should be protected at all cost.

In the case of Mapungubwe, I believe it’s too late. They’ve already invested money, time and infrastructure in the area. I suspect that they will most likely be allowed to go ahead with their mining and as the CEO of CoAL pointed out, will probably be very closely watched throughout and even after their mining endeavour there is complete. I just hope that it becomes a catalyst for sorting out our environmental legislation and governmental departments so that other sensitive areas in SA are saved from a similar fate.