land claims by the Machete family have held up progress. They laid claim to the whole of the Mapungubwe Cultural landscape and 56 nearby farms and their claim has apparently been upheld in the courts. The proposed location of the mine and power station will be in the middle of the planned TFCA.
No formal map was submitted as part of the nomination for either the buffer zone or the TFCA – only the description of both areas. At the World Heritage Committee, the property was recommended for referral to allow for better maps to be provided but in the event a decision was made to inscribe. Subsequent maps have been produced within South Africa of both the buffer zone and the TFCA, but these do not show either area surrounding the property, and both having exclusion areas to the east of the property where the proposed mine and power station are to be sited. These proposals therefore appear to be at variance with what was put forward at the time of nomination.
The proposed mine was the subject of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). However according to information received by the World Heritage Centre, this appears to have failed to adequately assess the full impact on the cultural and natural environment. The base-line date appears to be deficient, many ancillary aspects of the development have not been addressed, inadequate mitigation proposals have been put forward and the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies have not been consulted.
In terms of the natural environment independent consultants undertook a desk assessment of the relevant documents and concluded that the impact assessments had not adequately identified the impact on quantity and quality of water resources and as a result mitigation measures were lacking. For instance proposed de-watering of an aquifer could have a severe effect on farmers on the South African side of the Limpopo River who use the aquifer for irrigation and subsequently on food security.
In terms of the cultural environment, the impact assessment was based on a superficial survey of the area and did not consider the impact on the World Heritage property. On 18th March 2010, the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA) lodged an appeal against the decision to grant the mining right. The Appeal is on the grounds that the EIA was insufficient and that the link between the study area and the World Heritage property was not fully considered. Recent research has indicated that the area to the east of the property has strong links to the areas within the boundary such as the extensive rock art both within the property and in the proposed mining area, and extensive Stone Age and Iron Age remains. The Appeal also states that it considers that the development will lead to industrialization of the area, that it will have a permanent negative impact on the integrity of the heritage and natural landscape, that the impact on the archaeological sites and places of intangible significance will be permanent, and that there will be a profound negative impact on the sense of place of the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape. Overall they conclude that the entire Vele Basin area is of great importance and the potential development of a coal mine on even a small portion of this landscape is detrimental in terms of the generation of knowledge of the archaeological heritage of the whole region.
The Appeal also highlights the international implications of the proposals as both the Botswanan and Zimbabwean Governments are investigating the possibility of extending the World Heritage status to include areas related to the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape in their respective countries as part of the TFCA process.
Two locations have been considered for a power station near Musina. An environmental impact assessment of the sites concluded that little is known about the occurrence of heritage resources in the study area per se although it was likely that Stone and Iron Age sites would be found. It recommended that the proposed development could continue subject to an archaeological survey once work commences.
In April 2010 it was reported in the press that the order for the mining right was finalised on 12th March 2010 giving CoAl "unconditional" approval to start development of the Vele
State of conservation of World Heritage properties inscribed on the World Heritage List
WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add, p. 90