Benny van Zyl, General Manager of the Transvaal Agricultural Union, discusses the problem of prime arable farmland being eaten up by mines especially in Mpumalanga, where thousands of mining licences are being given out.
Only 1.6% of our country is highly arable land, and 46% of that is in Mpumalanga area. And we are losing a great deal of land to open caste coal mines in particular— Benny van Zyl, General Manager of the Transvaal Agricultural Union
But van Zyl says all mines are contributing to this problem. He says that aside from loss of land that should be growing food to feed our 55 million strong population in a sustainable manner, instead this land is being taken out from under farmers as more and more mining licences are handed out every year.
Over 4000 mining licences were handed out last year in Mpumalanga alone— Benny van Zyl, General Manager of the Transvaal Agricultural Union
Agricultural industry role players have asked government to intervene in the threat imposed by mining companies which are reportedly taking over prime agricultural land for the sole purpose of coal mining. The problem is said to be dire in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces. This is one of the issues threatening South Africa’s food security they say.
Benny van Zyl says government are just not willing to beef up the legislation needed. The licences are handed out and farmers are not taken into consideration. The mine owners just start mining on farmers land, he says.
If they get a mining licence, they don't even take landowners into account. Farmers have no say in this.— Benny van Zyl, General Manager of the Transvaal Agricultural Union
And the other big issue of so many mines is pollution. The impact of mines is so intense that it is difficult to bring back the balance for nature to thrive.
Acid water from mining is the other enormous problem.
And rehabilitation of the soil when the mines leave is a difficult and complex process.
We won't have enough arable land left to produce food - and we can't eat minerals.— Benny van Zyl, General Manager of the Transvaal Agricultural Union