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groundWork is a non-profit environmental justice service and developmental organization working primarily in Southern Africa in the areas of Climate & Energy Justice, Coal, Environmental Health, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals, and Waste. groundWork is the South African member of Health Care Without Harm and Friends of the Earth International.


International and National Coal Exchange Statements

14 June 2018 - groundWork has always believed that community people learn best from sharing their struggles with each other.  The 2018 International Coal Exchange took between 29 and 31 January 2018. It aimed to enable shared learning and a broader understanding of coal, energy poverty and the making of environmental injustice.

groundWork believes that exchanges build a connections and unity between groups with similar concerns. It is one of the ways in which groundWork supports community-based organizations to build solidarity and links with each other, and to build a shared response to the common environmental injustices people face on the ground.

You can read the statements that emerged from the exchanges:

Wellington Community Defeats Waste Incinerator in South Africa

07 June 2018 - Communities of Wellington, in the Western Cape of South Africa, have successfully pushed against the Drakenstein Municipalities plans to build a Municipal Waste Incinerator. The Wellington Association against the Incinerator (WAAI) and the Drakenstein Environmental Watch (DEW), both community based organisations, worked tirelessly,  along with another GAIA member – groundWork, to campaign, resist and legally challenge the proposed incinerator. The Drakenstein Municipality recognized in their official statement “complaints and resistance by certain interest groups – especially against the proposed inclusion of an incinerator component – as well as legal processes” as part of their decision to terminate the proposed project.

groundWork has been working with community groups in Wellington in this struggle over the past few years. Musa Chamane, one of the Waste Campaigners of the organisation, explained that this victory “highlights the importance of community organizing when fighting for environmental justice” and added that “challenging these projects from different angles is crucial to stop these kind of proposals”.

Keith Roman of WAAI said that their “strategy was to intervene using the legal route to highlight the administrative flaws of the process conducted by the Drakenstein Municipality”. Caron Potocnik of DEW identified the human rights violations related to this project as their main concern “the municipality has to consider the impacts on the people of Wellington” Potocnik affirmed. Going forward both WAAI and DEW are optimistic about the town’s potential “it is great that the incinerator plans have been terminated but now we need to think of how we use sustainable methods of dealing with waste and make Wellington a model zero waste town” both organizations agreed. 

This item originally appeared on the GAIA website.

Minister's statement flies in the face of latest 'no new coal' report

04 June 2018 - The Minister of Energy on Friday reiterated government's intention to proceed with the procurement of expensive, dirty electricity from two independent coal power plants – despite compelling evidence about the disastrous impacts these plants would have for South Africa.

Earlier this week, the Energy Research Centre (ERC) released a report proving that the two new coal plants, Thabametsi and Khanyisa, would cost South Africa an additional R20 billion, and increase greenhouse gas emissions by so much that they would negate government's key plans to mitigate climate change. Credible modelling shows that, given the large surplus generation capacity, the coal IPPs are unnecessary to meet demand, and ensure security of electricity supply.

Moreover, both plants would have significant impacts on air quality and health in areas that are already heavily polluted, and would use enormous amounts of precious water resources. It is for these reasons that the Life After Coal Campaign has challenged – and will continue to challenge – all authorisations for these plants, including in High Court proceedings still underway.

Read the full media release here.

Mining Charter Consultation Returns to KwaZulu-Natal

31 May 2018 - Today Minister Gwede Mantashe returns to Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) to discuss the Mining Charter with local community people, NGOs and industry.  The meeting was to be on the 22 May 2018, but was cancelled on the morning after more than 70 community people travelled from afar as Mtubatuba, Somkhele and Fuleni. 

Post the meeting the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) responded and apologised for the late postponement and offered to pay for people's transport to the meeting today.  This is welcomed by the communities and groundWork. It is critical that government ensures people are supported to participate in meetings that will define their future.

The community will hold a picket outside the meeting and will hand over a memorandum demanding the right to say no to mining.

For contact details to obtain more information, click here.

To read the memorandum handed over to Minister Mantashe click here.

New proceedings launched to protect Mpumalanga strategic water source area from coal mining

31 May 2018 - Last week, the coalition of eight community and civil society organisations, that is resisting Atha-Africa Ventures’ proposed coal mine inside a Protected Area and Strategic Water Source Area in Mpumalanga, launched new legal proceedings in the Mbombela High Court.

The new proceedings are a judicial review application to set aside the decision of the Mpumalanga Department of Environmental Affairs to grant an environmental authorisation to Atha for its proposed Yzermyn underground coal mine, and the decision of the Mpumalanga MEC to dismiss the coalition’s appeal of that environmental authorisation. The review application is coupled with an interdict preventing the start of any activities at the proposed mining site pending the outcome of the review.

Read the full media release here.

New report shows that two coal IPPs would cost SA an additional R20 billion

The new coal IPPs will be excessively expensive and polluting, and crowd out other cheaper, cleaner, and more flexible alternatives. Image: © Greenpeace Africa / Mujahid Safodien

30 May 2018 - A report released today by the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre (ERC) shows that government’s planned independent power producer (IPP) coal plants – Thabametsi and Khanyisa – would cost South Africa an additional R19.68 billion compared to a least-cost energy system.

Thabametsi (557 MW to be based near Lephalale, Limpopo) and Khanyisa (306 MW to be based near eMalahleni, Mpumalanga) are the preferred bidders under the first bid window of the coal-baseload IPP procurement programme.

The new report shows that the two coal IPPs are not needed to meet South Africa’s medium-term electricity demand. Where future capacity is needed, this is met more cheaply by other electricity sources such as wind, solar, and flexible gas generation.

Read the full media release here.

Minister of Mineral Resources fails to honour his commitment

22 May 2018 - The Minister of Mineral Resources, Mr Gwede Mantashe failed to honour his commitment to visit the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province today to discuss the Mining Charter.  Community people gathered from Newcastle area (Normandien, Kliprand Farm and Uitkomst communities) and Somkhele, where Petmin’s coal mine is being challenged by local community people.  More than 70 people travelled to attend the meeting to speak with the Minister about the impacts of coal mining and dangers of proposed fracking in the province.  

“This shows the lack of respect government has for meaningful participation.  It is not easy for people to make these meetings.  For these meetings to be cancelled without notice is an injustice” says Robby Mokgalaka, groundWork’s Coal Campaigner.

Read the full media release here.

An irrational IRP can expect legal challenge from human rights organisations

17 May 2018 - The Life After Coal (LAC) Campaign and Greenpeace Africa say that the Department of Energy (DoE) will face a legal challenge from them if the Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity (IRP) ignores constitutional obligations.

“We are not afraid to take the Department of Energy to court if the updated IRP ignores the provisions made in the Constitution. We were successful in halting the nuclear deal and we will fight again if necessary,” says Earthlife Africa Director, Makoma Lekalakala. A legal challenge would be a severe blow to a department that has seen four ministers in under a year, and could face another reshuffle before the 2019 elections.

Read the full media release here.

Waste Pickers Left for Dead at New England Landfill Site

A 2015 waste picker protest, where waste pickers were challenging the delays in the building of the Materials Recovery Facility. They also challenged the dangerous work conditions.

11 May 2018 - Panic and chaos struck the New England Landfill site on Saturday, 5 May 2018, when waste pickers discovered the body of an unknown man they believed to have been dead. While trying to contact police, they realized that the man was still alive; they immediately tried to contact the ambulance instead. Several calls and pleas for help were made between 06:00 and 12:00 midday, the ambulance still had not arrived and the police had made no effort to come to the scene to assist.

Read the full media release here.

Green Scorpions Investigate Richards Bay Minerals for Allegedly Dumping Toxic Waste in Community.

Slimes dam

Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) Slimes dam polluting the environment: Photo groundWork

11 May 2018 - Green Scorpions has decided to investigate Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) for environmental violations; this is after groundWork filed a complaint against them on behalf of the KwaMbonambi community. The KwaMbonambi, Sokhulu and Enhlanzini communities, affected by waste dumping, are concerned that the waste is causing increased rates of cancer and destruction to their community and environment. These concerns were raised during ongoing research and community monitoring done by Kwazulu Regional Christian Council. Some of the other complaints include the dumping area not being adequately fenced off, people have lost their livestock, which are routinely trapped in the dumping area, and worry about their children being the next victims to this environmental injustice.

Read the full media release here.


For more news and our news archives click here, or here to access our collection of media items.