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Ikwezi Coal Mining Project in Dannhauser, Newcastle, South Africa

Ikwezi Mining displaced community members, destroyed graves and livelihoods. No prior and informed consent. Local activists and EJOs are pursuing legal action and protesting.


Dannhauser is a small town that has faced environmental injustices for almost a century owing to coal mining, and little has been done to address these issues [4]. One example is of the Ikwezi coal mining project, which bullied and used underhanded tactics to demolish homes for a new mine without prior and informed consent [2]. The mine was granted permits in 2011. Community members such as 86-year-old Ernest Ngwenya exhausted all options trying to get the municipality and mine to relocate them, but despite promises of relocation in 2015, their pleas went unanswered [6].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Ikwezi Coal Mining Project in Dannhauser, Newcastle, South Africa
Country:South Africa
State or province:KwaZulu-Natal
Location of conflict:Dannhauser
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 commodities:Coal
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Ikwezi Mining began working on building a new mine in Dannhauser on January 23, 2013 at an initial investment cost of $2,014,798. The mine’s reserves are estimated at 14 million tons of coal across over 12,000 hectares of land, of which 1.25 million tons were expected to be mined yearly [9, 11].

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Project area:12,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project2,014,798
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:23/11/2013
Company names or state enterprises:Ikwezi Mining from South Africa
Relevant government actors:Department of Mineral Resources
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Corruption Watch, GroundWork, WoMin, Oxfam, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa, Sisonke
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Noise pollution
Potential: Global warming, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other Health impacts
Potential: Occupational disease and accidents
Other Health impactsCoal dust
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Violations of human rights, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Militarization and increased police presence
Other socio-economic impactsDesecration of graves
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
SLAPP suit
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The mine is still operating, and nothing has been resolved
Sources & Materials

[1] Biz News. Coal miner Ikwezi’s SLAPP suit against environmental activist withdrawn (Hogg 2019)
[click to view]

[2] Mail&Guardian. Scramble for minerals leaves rural families homeless (Ledwaba 2018)
[click to view]

[3] News24. Mining companies against communities (Ledwaba 2019)
[click to view]

[4] IOL. Mining’s toxic legacy for the people of Dannhauser (Mthobeni & Mokgalaka 2020)
[click to view]

[5] MSN News. Corruption watchdog commits to helping Dannhauser residents win back their community (Nxumalo 2020)
[click to view]

[6] IOL. Dannhauser communities say illegal mining is destroying their homes (Nxumelo 2020)
[click to view]

[7] GroundWork. Back to business for Ikwezi Coal Mine (2018)
[click to view]

[8] Mining Review. DMR Minister not big in Natal (2018)
[click to view]

[9] Mining Capital. Ikwezi Mining reaches offtake deal for South African coal project (Yeo 2013)
[click to view]

[10] WoMin. Hands off our activists (Kakaza 2019)
[click to view]

[11] New Frame. New coal mining bulldozes villagers (Webster 2019)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Dalena Tran, ICTA-UAB, [email protected]
Last update10/08/2020
Conflict ID:5174
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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