A conservation row is brewing up in KwaZulu Natal because a mining company has approached the government to set up a coal mine on the border of the Umfolozi Game Reserve. According to Peter Hartley, a conservation officer, a coal mine on the border of the reserve would prove to be an ecological disaster.
"I do not know how this could be allowed. Anyone wanting to mine in such a sensitive area has to go through a strict process. A decision should be taken on whether the mine fits in with the area's Integrated Environmental Management Plan. As far as I know, the park management has been given no information regarding the proposal,' Hartley said.
Hartley added that any mining close to the Umfolozi would have a major ecological impact. "The three possible sites that have been identified are all close to a strictly-protected area, as well as, near two major rivers that flow through the reserve. A mine will cause water pollution, air pollution and noise pollution. In addition to this, one of the sites is close to our breeding area for wild birds. Any blasting or rumbling of trucks in that area will have a severe impact on the bird and animal population,' Hartley added.
The company which has applied for the mining permit is Purity Investments, based in Johannesburg. Rosanne Clark, from Ian Player's Wilderness Foundation, has been trying to get information about the proposed mine from the department of mineral and energy affairs but has failed to do so. Even the community that lives in the area knows nothing about the proposed mine, although it occupies the land on which the sites are supposed to be set-up.