The Guardian have published an interesting article into the enormous problems caused by coal in Mpumalanga, South Africa. What it fails to mention is that 10 of the 22+ mines are owned by London listed company Anglo- American, with others are owned by British listed BHP Billiton and Glencore Xstrata. Whilst the lower quality coal mined in this area supply the South African coal fired power station in this area, the higher quality coal is predominantly exported, mainly to Germany and The Netherlands, but also to Britain when it suits British power stations. We power our homes whilst others live without electricity next to burning sink holes where underground fires produce toxic gasses which are not even fenced off.
The people living in this area are exposed to extremely hazardous dust emissions and have no access to the electricity generated. The main power company, Eskom are asking the South African Department for Environmental Affairs for an exemption from the countries Air Quality Act. This act requires annual emissions of fine particles, PM 2.5s, should be reduced to 20ug/m3 from 2016. This standard itself is already twice that of the World Health Organisations recommended standard of 10ug/m3.
For more information on the situation in South Africa’s coal fields check out The Centre for Environmental Rights.
The Coal Action Network are working with The London Mining Network, The World Development Movement, People and Planet and many others to host a tour by a Colombian activist in relation to the BHP Billiton AGM in October. More details to follow on this website.