Exxaro Leeuwpan Mining Project, South Africa


Exxaro Leeuwpan Colliery is expanding, threatening national water and food security by destroying wetlands and pans, and disrupting river flows. Activists claim that their advance into the Weltevreden Pan is illegal.

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Basic Data
NameExxaro Leeuwpan Mining Project, South Africa
CountrySouth Africa
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Coal extraction and processing
Specific CommoditiesCoal
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsExtraction is taking place at a rate of 3 million tonnes of coal per annum at Leeuwpan Colliery.

Leeuwpan has a coal reserve base of about 143Mt and a resource of about 160Mt.
Project Area (in hectares)4067
Level of Investment (in USD)5210036000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population2,000
Start Date24/03/2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesExxaro Resources Limited from South Africa
Relevant government actorsNational Assembly, Democratic Alliance
International and Financial InstitutionsDeutsche Gesellschaft zur Zertifizierung von Managementsystemen (DQS) from Germany
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersmedia24. http://www.media24.com/, Beeld - a newspaper in the Media24 Group, one of the largest daily Afrikaans publications in South Africa. http://www.beeld.com/, Centre for Environmental rights http://cer.org.za/
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of MobilizationLawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Desertification/Drought, Global warming, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Mine tailing spills
OtherDestruction of Natural Water Bodies
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other Health impacts
Potential: Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Negotiated alternative solution
Application of existing regulations
Development of AlternativesStopping the operation, withdrawing from areas mined illegally, and reinstating the original inhabitants and economy. Criminal Prosecution
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Once the Water Tribunal is reinstated, the directive issued by the Department of Water Affairs will again become valid. The outcome remains uncertain until that time.
Sources and Materials

National Environmental Management Act (NEMA): The Minister of Water Affairs has been negligent in not reappointing members of the Water Tribunal. Exxaro used this situation in legal manoeuvrings to disempower legal enforcement agencies that tried to stop them on the Weltevreden farm.

Exxaros compliance with a request for information under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) was incomplete, but adequate to verify concerns.

Exxaro has shown gross non-compliance with the National Water Act (NWA). They are mining on the Weltevreden Farm without a water license. Specifically they are in violation of NWA regulations by practicing opencast activities inside the pan/wetland.


Evaluating the impact of coal mining on agriculture in the Delmas, Ogies and Leandra districts: A focus on maize production. A report by BFAP, Compiled for the Maize Trust. Van der Burgh, Meyer, Coertzen reports/The impact of coal mining on agriculture -
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Coal Mining on the Highveld and its implications for future water quality in the Vaal river system. McCarty, Pretorius
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Analysis on the High Court Judgement by the International Law Office
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Financial results and sustainability infgorstion for the 6-month period ended 30 June 30
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Parliamentary Reply to questions on Leeuwpan: 2115.pdf
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Exxaro’s statement on the importance of Wetlands
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Exxaro’s statement on exploitation of wetlands
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Exxaro’s statement on mining a portion of Leeuwpan, claiming the Weltevreden Pan is legitimately mined:
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Report on Leeuwpan by Elise Tempelhoff of Beeld.
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Farmer lodges complaint against exxaro. Mail & Gaurdian
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Exxaro Company Profile.
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Leeuwpan Profile.
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Mining Weekly’s article on Leeuwpan’s Profile 2007.
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Exxaro Justifies the legality of their operation
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Court records of the High Court Appeal by Exxaro:
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Natural Water Body threatened by large mining company
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Mining Weekly’s article on the merger of Eyesizwe and Kumba
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Ways to kill a wetland
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Media Links

Aint to Rest: Earthworks at Weltevreden Pan by Exxaro
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Meta Information
ContributorFranz Fuls
Last update03/05/2014