project which it was stated would be completed by the third quarter of the year. However on 12th May 2010 the press reported that ‘Giant baobabs and several hectares of indigenous forest’ had been flattened by the mining company, without having obtained the necessary water licence or environmental approval or approval for the building of a road to the site where the mine will be built.
Further press reports have suggested that mining companies have acquired farms even nearer the boundary of the property with a view to extending mining operations.
No information has been forthcoming about the status of the Appeal nor the position of the Department of Environmental Affairs that has responsibility for the property.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are extremely concerned about the potential impact of the proposed mine, power station and ancillary development on both the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape property and on its hinterland. The mining area is a highly sensitive cultural area that relates closely to the attributes within the property and provides its context and approach and is also a highly sensitive natural area that is inextricably linked to the wider landscape. In terms of both culture and nature, any development of this site could have far reaching implications for the sustainability of the Limpopo Basin, could de-rail international agreements on the TFCA and could completely destroy a landscape that has the potential to contribute significantly to an understanding of the wider settlement history of Mapungubwe. It could also pollute the Limpopo river which crosses the property.
The proposed development highlights the lack of clarity over responsibilities for the protection of the property, as set out at the time of inscription, and the lack of clarity over the buffer zone, as described at the time of inscription. The developments also appear to put into question future possible collaboration with Botswana and Zimbabwe over the proposed TFCA.
34 COM 7B.52
The World Heritage Committee,
Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add,
Regrets that the State Party has not provided a report on the mining project and its
implications as requested by the World Heritage Centre in its letter of 9 March 2010;
Expresses extreme concern at the granting of a mining licence for coal some 5 km from the boundary of the property, in a highly sensitive area adjacent to the Limpopo river and in the proposed buffer zone that was submitted at the time of the inscription, and which is fundamentally linked to the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property in terms of both cultural and natural attributes;
Recognises that the proposed development does not appear to have the support of the Department of Environmental Affairs that has overall responsibility for the property, and also takes note of the concerns raised by NGOs and the appeal against the licence that has been brought by the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists;
Also notes that it has been reported that the ownership of the property has been claimed by a private landowner and requests the State Party to clarify what implications
State of conservation of World Heritage properties inscribed on the World Heritage List
WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add, p. 91