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[File photo] South Africa's coal mine.

Residents of Indwe, near Cacadu, in the Eastern Cape, hope the piloted coal mining in the area will change the lives of the impoverished communities.

43 villages, which fall under the Gumamhla Trust, want a clear beneficiation policy that is in line with the mining charter.

The government says coal mining will be a catalyst for economic growth and job creation in the area.

The coal belt contains three small rural towns, Dordrecht, Indwe and Cala. Indigenous landowners started illegal mining enterprises at Indwe decades ago. They traded with raw coal on the black market.

The residents say they want a coal mining company that recognises beneficiation and the history of coal mining in the area. They also want proper public consultation.

Tshondaxola Matiwane says, “We have to know what is taking place now, we are not happy about this programme of mining. We need DMR to come to us, we need the municipality to come forward to us, not somebody else who is coming to run this programme without consulting the local people.”

Xolile Maketesi adds, “This is our land, these people came up with dams here and these dams are contaminated with chemicals. Our livestock is dying and these chemicals pose a danger to the communities around this mining. We want it to be protected from our livestock. Livestock drink from this contaminated dam.”

A local businessman, Willem Strapelsberg, hopes the government will speed up the consultation process as they believe coal mining will change the face of eMalahleni.

“I think that there is still, especially with supply for electricity supply or coal whatever, I still feel there is a future in this mine. They have been saying the coal is not of good quality but still, I still believe that there is a way to get this coal mining up and running and we need the people, we need the government to try and get this, especially for our people. We have not had job creation we need this for the local people, especially for the businesses as well, this is our last hope.”

According to the government, mining in the area has the potential to change the province’s economic outlook.
The mayor of the Chris Hani District Municipality, Wongama Gela claims that jobs will be created.

“Mining activities are regulated and there are quite a number of regulations that some include the consultation of communities so the reopening of that mine at Emalahleni will yield a number of spin-offs in terms of the economic spin-offs. The economic activities that may accrue will also change the face of Emalhaleni, the face of the district and indeed that may work to contribute to the economic fortunes of the Eastern Cape province.”

Consultation with the communities is currently taking place. Villagers want the government and the mining company to agree on how they will benefit from coal mining in the area.