Johannesburg - Coal of Africa Limited [JSE:CZA] (CoAL), granted a
licence to mine near a world heritage site, on Thursday signed an
agreement with environmental authorities to preserve the area.
"We want to set the standard in responsible mining as
future mining in the country is likely to increasingly venture into more
sensitive areas," CoAL chief executive John Wallington told Mining Weekly.
"By signing this agreement, the first of its kind, we
have effectively raised the bar," Wallington said.
Last month, the company halted activities at Vele Colliery
near Mapungubwe cultural landscape in the northern Limpopo province after a
coalition group launched an appeal against its water use licence.
The bio-sensitive area is said to have deposits of
high quality coking coal that could be mined for up to 25 years.
"We expect the water use licence ban to be suspended
soon so that we can begin work," CoAL spokesperson James Duncan said.
Mapungubwe became South Africa's fifth world heritage site
in July 2003.
The company signed an agreement with the department of environmental afairs and the South African National Parks committing to
develop natural heritage conservation, water resources and cultural heritage
among other things.
Conservation activists have raised concern that mining could
endanger the area and cause it to be delisted as a world heritage site.
"We will defend this heritage and make sure it's not in
danger. We are not yet in danger and so there's no talk of delisting until
further notice," said Fundisile Mketeni, the director general of
biodiversity and conservation.