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Coal Miners Across South Africa Walk Away from Clean Up Responsibility

Documents obtained by Climate Home reveal a growing crisis as big miners and government shift liability to small companies who cannot afford coal mine clean up.

Just outside the town of Ermelo in Mpumalanga – South Africa’s most important coal mining province – Johan Vos’ farm is littered with derelict and working mines.

At one abandoned site, mining infrastructure sits partially submerged and rusting in a large pool formed among exposed mine waste. Smoke pours from a nearby hill as a fire rages out-of-control in the tunnels below.

The wreckage belongs to Golfview Mining (Pty) Ltd, part of Anker Coal and Mineral Holdings South Africa (Pty) Ltd, which in turn is part of the Anker group based in the Netherlands. But rather than finish cleaning up Vos’ land, Golfview is looking to sell.

Sights like this are increasingly common in South Africa. As the global market for coal slowly declines, slimmer margins are forcing international mining companies, including majors BHP Billiton and Anglo American, to shed their coal assets.

Scott Wallace / World Bank

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