Food security and mining
The story below (link) has been rumbling around for the last few weeks. The coal fields in Mpumalanga that it is now proposed will be mined are apparently not particularly rich and would be depleted rapidly. Surely the long term consequences for agriculture and food security need to be considered here, as happened earlier this year in the Western Cape - see even further below.
“THE Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) yesterday expressed serious concerns over the “uncontrolled increase in open-cast mining of coal in Mpumalanga”, calling on the government to investigate its risk to the country’s food security.
The chamber’s worries follow the release last week of the scathing report by University of Pretoria-based research organisation Bureau for Food and Agriculture Policy (BFAP). The report evaluated the effect of coal mining on agriculture in the Delmas, Ogies and Leandra districts, focusing on maize production.
It warned that in the long run, mining in Mpumalanga risked reducing maize production — in one of the most productive regions in SA for grain and oilseed — by 447,581 tons of maize a year, which would result in an average annual price rise of R300/ton.
The report said average maize prices were projected to increase by about 14 %, which in turn would cause maize meal prices to rise by about 5%, which would affect SA’s poorest, who depend on maize as a staple food.
John Purchase, the CEO of Agbiz, said SA was losing land with a high potential for sustainable maize and soyabean production to unsustainable coal mining at an alarming rate.
SA has only 1.5% of high-potential arable soils best suited for cash crop production, and 46.4% of this total crop area was in Mpumalanga.
At the present rate of coal mining development in Mpumalanga, about 12% of SA’s high-potential arable land would be transformed, while a further 13.6% was being prospected by the mines, the report said.
BFAP undertook an environmental impact analysis, saying that, based on previous published studies, high-potential soils that were mined “would never be rehabilitated back to the state or potential” which they had previously had.
This meant that Mpumalanga had potentially lost about 26% (225,217ha) of its high-potential arable soils to mining activities, the report said.”
Back in April this year, this happened:
“A CONSTITUTIONAL Court (Concourt) ruling that any land for which mining is planned must first be rezoned in accordance with municipal and provincial land use planning ordinances has been welcomed by groups wanting to stop mining activities in two areas of the Western Cape’s west coast and in an urban area of Cape Town.
Verlorenvlei Coalition co-ordinator Malie Grutter, and the World Wildlife Fund South Africa (WWF) welcomed the judgment in the case of Maccsand versus the City of Cape Town and others, which effectively means that the national government’s licensing procedures cannot override provincial and municipal laws.
The WWF reported that the judgment confirmed the Supreme Court of Appeal’s decision earlier that, where mining is not permitted by a provincial zoning scheme, the holder of a mining right or permit cannot start to mine unless the land was rezoned to allow mining.
The coalition said it considered the ruling “a redress in the balance of power between mining and other imperatives such as agriculture, job security, water conservation, environmental protection and social stability”. (Full article link - here)
How to take this to Mpumalanga?
University of Cape Town