Coal of Africa Limited (CoAL)’s coking-coal projects, Vele and Makhado, are situated in remote parts of Limpopo Province. Management is conscious of the area’s environmental significance, and that it is host to the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site. CoAL has introduced a number of state-of-the-art environmental management programmes to ensure that the impacts of coal mining are mitigated.
CoAL is committed to complying with environmental legislation, which is extensive and onerous in the South African context. The most significant laws which guide environmental compliance are the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (MPRDA) and the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (NEMA).
In working to minimise the visible surface impact at Vele, CoAL has amended its original mine plan to include an underground component where 40% of coal will be sourced. Plans are in place to rehabilitate the surface mine simultaneously with mining activities – at no time will the open pit be larger than 50 hectares.
Vele Colliery and water
In May 2011, Vele Colliery was granted an integrated water use licence (IWUL) by the Department of Water Affairs.
A detailed water balance has been compiled by specialists for the Vele operation, and is inclusive of water demand for processing, potable use on site, irrigation of rehabilitated areas, dust suppression and provision for livestock/game.
A study to determine the aquifer’s ability to provide for existing and future water use has confirmed that there will be no further pressure on the catchment’s water resources, given that the mine’s host properties have existing associated water uses.
The IWUL was suspended in terms of Section 148(2)(b) of the National Water Act, 1998 due to an appeal to the Water Tribunal submitted by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) coalition in July 2011. The suspension was subsequently lifted in October 2011 when the Company made an urgent appeal to the Minister of Water Affairs; requesting that the IWUL remains in full force and effect in this interim period, and until the final conclusion of the appeal.