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Mondi Merebank Multifuel Boiler in Durban, South Africa

In 2002, the Mondi Paper Company received permits to build a new boiler for its waste incinerator. Protesters rallied and legally fought against the plan but could not stop it from being completed in 2006.


South Durban is a classic example of environmental racism owing to legacies from Apartheid, during which blacks and south Asians were forced to move to South Durban as cheap labor for oil, paper, and chemical industries. Mondi Paper Company, a paper mill owned by Anglo American, is the third worst local polluter, and has long been opposed by the community for its multifuel boiler/incinerator’s emissions contributing to high incidences of asthma and cancer [2]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Mondi Merebank Multifuel Boiler in Durban, South Africa
Country:South Africa
State or province:KwaZulu-Natal
Location of conflict:Durban
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Incinerators
Manufacturing activities
Specific commodities:Paper
Manufactured Products
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Mondi is the world’s 13th largest pulp and paper company, and was founded during South Africa’s apartheid regime in 1967 by Anglo American, one of the world’s largest mining companies [2]. Its 90t/h multifuel boiler burns up to 200,000 tons of coal, sludge, ash, and wood bark every year [5, 6]. The burning process generates steam that contributes the the plant’s power, the rest of which is supplied by coal. The contractor that built the incinerator was Babcock Engineering, which is also the company that built Sappi’s highly polluting Saiccor paper mill [6].

Level of Investment for the conflictive project66,442,585
Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:16/04/2006
End of the conflict:16/04/2006
Company names or state enterprises:Mondi Paper Company from South Africa
Anglo American from United Kingdom
Relevant government actors:KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Merebank Resident’s Association, the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), Legal Resources Center, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Global warming, Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite many years of legal battles and activism, in the end those protesting against Mondi were not able to stop them from building a new boiler for their incinerator or get Mondi to invest in cleaner technologies.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[3] Environmental Justice in South Africa. Doublespeak in Durban: Mondi, Waste Management, and the Struggles of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (Peek 2002)
[click to view]

Mobilisation and protest: environmental justice in Durban, South Africa. Llewellyn Leonard &Mark Pelling. Local Environment. Pages 137-151 | Published online: 01 Mar 2010
[click to view]

[1] IOL. Mondi told to clean up its act (Newman 2002)
[click to view]

[2] WRM Bulletin. South Africa: Mondi and environmental racism (Lang 2006)
[click to view]

[4] Global Nonviolent Action Database. South Africans protest Mondi Paper’s multi-fuel boiler (Schlis 2011)
[click to view]

[5] IOL. Legal haze surrounds Mondi’s incinerator (Carnie 2002)
[click to view]

[6] Engineering News. New multifuel boiler for paper manufacturer (Moodley 2006)
[click to view]

[7] IndustriAll. South African Court blocks Mondi from exploiting workers (2020)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Dalena Tran, ICTA-UAB, [email protected]
Last update06/08/2020
Conflict ID:5154
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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