Pretoria - Science, not emotion, was behind the decision to
grant a permit to Australian mining company Coal of Africa [JSE:CZA] (CoAL), to continue
construction near the Mapungubwe world heritage site, the environmental affairs
department said on Wednesday.
"When we deal with biodiversity, we need science... and
it informs us," deputy director-general for biodiversity and conservation,
Fundisile Mkhetheli, told journalists in Pretoria.
"Studies were done and emotions must be set aside and
science (put) upfront."
He said instead of people basing their judgement on
emotions, they should instead look at studies that had been conducted.
Various organisations protested against the development in
Mapungubwe, in Limpopo, even threatening legal action should the department
decide to grant authorisation for further construction.
The department's Ishaam Abader defended the decision to give
environmental consent for CoAL's Vele colliery, saying any impact could be
mitigated. Indigenous vegetation could be moved from where roads would be
built, and planted elsewhere.
Abader said the company would have to abide by special
conditions due to the project's proximity to Mapungubwe. The mine is about 6km
from the Mapungubwe National Park.
Operations at the mine were put on hold in August 2010 when
it was discovered the company did not comply with the National Environmental
Management Act. CoAL subsequently paid the department a R9.25m administrative
A notice of intention to appeal the department's decision
had to be lodged with the minister within 20 days, from the date of the
authorisation, July 5. No appeals had been received by Wednesday, said Abader,
adding that the public had until July 25 to do so.