Mining in the Mabola Protected Environment
Author Amanda Mkhonza
Source: South African Journal of Environmental Law and Policy 2019, p. 185 – 200
Soon after declaring the Mabola Protected Environment in terms of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, permission to undertake coal mining activities within this environmentally sensitive and ecologically important area was granted by the Ministers responsible for the environment and mineral resources in terms of the same Act. This statutory anomaly – that allows for mining within protected environments – sits at the heart of this case and is interpreted by our judiciary for the first time. The Mabola judgment crystalises the sequence of authorisations required for mining within protected environments whilst clearly distinguishing the roles of the relevant Ministers when called to act as custodians of South Africa’s protected environments.