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Mapungubwe UNESCO Heritage site protected from potential mining pollution

Mapungubwe Heritage Site

After a period of protracted discussions, an offset agreement which will protect the Mapungubwe Unesco World Heritage Site from potential mining pollution has been reached between Coal of Africa and a group of environmentalists.

Australian company, Coal of Africa has committed to protecting Mapungubwe’s living and cultural heritage should it goes ahead with plans with mining activity. Its Vele colliery near Mapungubwe is currently under maintenance.

It is the first time an offset agreement has been negotiated to as a condition to obtain a licence in South Africa. According to the agreement, any damage by Coal for Africa will be monetised and penalized.

For three years, relentlessly, environmentalists been raising concerns about coal mining and related activities on the environment, specifically the impact of mining on water and heritage resources in the area.

The South African National Parks was one of the leading bodies lobbying for Coal of Africa to consider protection of Mapungubwe Heritage Site in its mining plans.

Recounting the work involved, South African National Parks CEO, Fundisile Mketeni, said: “We went as far as going to Unesco to discuss issues of the buffer zone. That work was done meticulously by the South African National Parks CEO,together with NGO’s. Thereafter, there was an offset agreement that was discussed.

“The offset is in place. There is a committee that is looking to monitor mining activities. They will monitor issues of water quality and water use, and issues of air and ground pollution. I was told recently that the mining has stopped because of the price of coal,” said Mketeni.

Mapungubwe Hill was a home to a royal family. It is where they were buried alongside priceless gold artefacts. The heritage site is believed to have been the earliest state system in South Africa where there has been clear evidence that society had become stratified.