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Water Tribunal to hear appeal against licence for coal mine inside strategic water source area

23 July 2018 at 9:25 am

Coal mining threatens the Ekangala Drakensberg Strategic Water Source Area. Image: Oxpeckers
Coal mining threatens the Ekangala Drakensberg Strategic Water Source Area. Image: Oxpeckers

On Tuesday, 24 July 2018, CER attorneys will be before the Water Tribunal in Pretoria for the hearing of the appeal against the water use licence issued for a proposed coal mine inside a strategic water source area outside Wakkerstroom in Mpumalanga. This case is part of a set of legal challenges brought by eight civil society organisations aimed at setting aside all approvals given for the mine.

The strategic importance of the area in which the proposed mine would be built, the Ekangala Drakensberg Strategic Water Source Area, has long been recognised by various government departments and agencies, supported by government funded research.

The appeal argues that the proposed mine would dry up the numerous wetlands and headwater and mountain streams in the area, and would result in contamination of ground and surface water, including acid mine drainage. The proposed mine would be located in a water source of the Vaal River System, which supports the water needs of South Africa’s economic hub, Gauteng. The proposed mining area also falls within the headwaters of the Usutu River which flows through Swaziland and, after joining the Pongola River, flows into Mozambique. Consequently, the health of this river system is also relevant to South Africa’s international obligations. All of these users will be affected should a source of those rivers be compromised.

All papers filed in this appeal are available on our website under the heading “The decision by the Department of Water and Sanitation to grant a water use licence in terms of the National Water Act, 1998”.

For more information about this case, visit: and


For media queries, please contact Annette Gibbs on or 082 467 1295.

Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

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