Broken Land is about the battle between climate change, mining and human rights in Mpumalanga province, South Africa

Mpumalanga is home to 46% of South Africa’s high potential arable soils, but it is also home to eleven coal- burning power stations. These power stations, while providing electricity for an energy desperate South Africa, also have a devastating and lasting impact on the environment and the health of local people.

Mining licenses are granted by the South African government on the condition that mines follow strictly defined Environmental Rehabilitation and Social Development Plans, meant to safeguard the ecology and allow local people to benefit from the mineral wealth of the land. But it is clear that these conditions are not being followed and that the health and economic well-being of both the land and its people are being jeopardized. Vast tracts of fertile, arable land are being ripped up, the landscape scarred with the black pits of coal mines while coal burning power stations, including the biggest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, Secunda CTS, spew CO2 and other noxious gasses into the atmosphere. Miners and residents alike suffer from numerous respiratory conditions and water meant for drinking and farming is contaminated with pollutants from the mines. Poverty remains the status quo for the majority of residents in the province as the mines and power stations have failed to deliver on the local employment policies they had agreed to. In recent years the situation has taken on a further sinister dimension as the former Glencore coal mines have been taken over by Optimum Coal Holdings Limited: a conglomerate owned by the Gupta family who are embroiled in corruption and nepotism scandals that are affecting the very highest levels of the South African government.

The coal power stations not only contribute to global climate change, but also wreak havoc on the province itself which was one of the hardest hit during the droughts of 2015/2016, the worst in decades, which farmers and scientists say is but a taste of things to come in the future. With water already scarce, the poisoning of precious fresh water supplies with sulphur run-off has jeopardized the water resources necessary for agriculture and also for the Olifants river catchment, which provides water for most of the interior of South Africa. The aim of this project is to look at both the macro issues like pollution, poverty and climate change while also personalizing the experience of the local people who are on the front lines of this crisis and provide us with a glimpse of what the future could be like for the country and indeed the SADC region if this problem continues unchecked. 

October 24, 2015: A dam near Silobela township in, Mpumalanga. Residents of the township believe that their drinking water is contaminated by local coal mines. Photo: Daylin Paul
October 24, 2015: A dam near Silobela township in, Mpumalanga. Residents of the township believe that their drinking water is contaminated by local coal mines. Photo: Daylin Paul
info
×
October 23, 2016: An open pit mine near Bethal in Mpumalanga province. Locals beleive that the open pit coal mines pollute their water when it rains. Picture Daylin Paul
October 23, 2016: An open pit mine near Bethal in Mpumalanga province. Locals beleive that the open pit coal mines pollute their water when it rains. Picture Daylin Paul
info
×
September 14, 2015: Camden Power Station in Mpumalanga. The province, formerly one of South Africa's main agricultral regions and source of the Vaal river basin which feeds Johannesburg, is home to nine coal burining power stations, including Camden.  Pic
September 14, 2015: Camden Power Station in Mpumalanga. The province, formerly one of South Africa's main agricultral regions and source of the Vaal river basin which feeds Johannesburg, is home to nine coal burining power stations, including Camden. Pic
info
×
September 22, 2015: Motorists, many of them employees of the Secunda power plant, line up in early morning traffic. The Secunda CTS plant, owned by former parastatal Sasol, is the world’s biggest single-point emission source of greenhouse gas. Picture: Da
September 22, 2015: Motorists, many of them employees of the Secunda power plant, line up in early morning traffic. The Secunda CTS plant, owned by former parastatal Sasol, is the world’s biggest single-point emission source of greenhouse gas. Picture: Da
info
×
September 21, 2015: A dead cow near the road between Secunda and Embalanhle township. Johannesburg. Cattle are tradtionally seen as a sign of wealth and properity in Zulu and Ndebele cultures, but some local farmers say that their cattle are dying because
September 21, 2015: A dead cow near the road between Secunda and Embalanhle township. Johannesburg. Cattle are tradtionally seen as a sign of wealth and properity in Zulu and Ndebele cultures, but some local farmers say that their cattle are dying because
info
×
September 22, 2015: A student walks through Embalenhle township near Secunda with the Sasol power station in the background. Many people in the nearby towns, townships and farms have respiratory diseases. Picture: Daylin Paul
September 22, 2015: A student walks through Embalenhle township near Secunda with the Sasol power station in the background. Many people in the nearby towns, townships and farms have respiratory diseases. Picture: Daylin Paul
info
×
October 25, 2015: John Dlamini (63), a former rock drill oprerator, worked in the mines for over 20 years. He is standing in Winkelhaak Cemetery in Evander, Mpumalanga, where he says many gold miners who died of respiratory disease and injuries, were buri
October 25, 2015: John Dlamini (63), a former rock drill oprerator, worked in the mines for over 20 years. He is standing in Winkelhaak Cemetery in Evander, Mpumalanga, where he says many gold miners who died of respiratory disease and injuries, were buri
info
×
September 15, 2015:  Young men walk back from the Secunda CTS plant after unsuccessfully looking for shift work in the morning. Some days they are lucky and get work, but if not they are forced to return to their homes in Embalenhle, some 10 kilometers aw
September 15, 2015: Young men walk back from the Secunda CTS plant after unsuccessfully looking for shift work in the morning. Some days they are lucky and get work, but if not they are forced to return to their homes in Embalenhle, some 10 kilometers aw
info
×
October 24, 2015: Junior Nkambule (4) lives in Silobela township with his mother. He is playing with water from a tap, which residents believe to be contaminated with sulphur by local coal mines. Photo: Daylin Paul
October 24, 2015: Junior Nkambule (4) lives in Silobela township with his mother. He is playing with water from a tap, which residents believe to be contaminated with sulphur by local coal mines. Photo: Daylin Paul
info
×
September 22, 2015: Sifiso Mgidi (15) picks copper out of a cellphone using a knife in eMadoteni to support his family. He dropped out of school two years previouly, saying "What good is an education if there is no food?" He gets $4 for 10kg of copper. Pi
September 22, 2015: Sifiso Mgidi (15) picks copper out of a cellphone using a knife in eMadoteni to support his family. He dropped out of school two years previouly, saying "What good is an education if there is no food?" He gets $4 for 10kg of copper. Pi
info
×
September 22, 2015:  A dog eats the raw flesh of a head of a cow while other cattle graze amongst the rubbish in "Emadotini" a dump near Mzinoni township, Mpumalanga. Picture: Daylin Paul
September 22, 2015: A dog eats the raw flesh of a head of a cow while other cattle graze amongst the rubbish in "Emadotini" a dump near Mzinoni township, Mpumalanga. Picture: Daylin Paul
info
×
September 16, 2015:  Roselina Shabangu (age unknown) lives in a handbuilt shack on piece of land where she and her deceased husband  used to have a brick home. Their home was knocked down by a mine who promised to build a new one, but never completed the
September 16, 2015: Roselina Shabangu (age unknown) lives in a handbuilt shack on piece of land where she and her deceased husband used to have a brick home. Their home was knocked down by a mine who promised to build a new one, but never completed the
info
×
October 24, 2015: Catherine Maseko (77) is a pensioner who lives with her daughter in Silobela township near Carolina in Mpumalanga. She used to have work as a housekeeper, but relies on her government grant of $90 a month to survive. Her daughter is unem
October 24, 2015: Catherine Maseko (77) is a pensioner who lives with her daughter in Silobela township near Carolina in Mpumalanga. She used to have work as a housekeeper, but relies on her government grant of $90 a month to survive. Her daughter is unem
info
×
November 18, 2015: Khethiwe Maseko (28) pans for chunks of coal scraps left over from when the near her home of Wesselton township, near Ermelo was a commercial mine. she is otherwise unemployed and uses the fuel for cooking and to sell to other people in
November 18, 2015: Khethiwe Maseko (28) pans for chunks of coal scraps left over from when the near her home of Wesselton township, near Ermelo was a commercial mine. she is otherwise unemployed and uses the fuel for cooking and to sell to other people in
info
×
October 24, 2015: Ntobeko Ndlovu (18) is a single mother who lives with her mother Asi Ngubeni. The father of her child was a taxi driver who died in a traffic accident and she dropped out of school to take care of their child. They live in Silobela towns
October 24, 2015: Ntobeko Ndlovu (18) is a single mother who lives with her mother Asi Ngubeni. The father of her child was a taxi driver who died in a traffic accident and she dropped out of school to take care of their child. They live in Silobela towns
info
×
November 18, 2015: Siyabonga Ngwenya (22) mines coal illegally from a crack under the cliff face of a former commercial mine near the township of Wesselton, outside Ermelo, Mpumalanga. Both his parents are dead so he lives with his grandmother and mines c
November 18, 2015: Siyabonga Ngwenya (22) mines coal illegally from a crack under the cliff face of a former commercial mine near the township of Wesselton, outside Ermelo, Mpumalanga. Both his parents are dead so he lives with his grandmother and mines c
info
×
October 13, 2015: (L-R) Paulose Dlamini, William Mdanke, Paulose Maloyi and and Joseph Makoti worked in coal mines in Secunda and contracted pnuemoconosis. Many miners and local people suffer from respiratory diseases. Makoti is showing pictures of his di
October 13, 2015: (L-R) Paulose Dlamini, William Mdanke, Paulose Maloyi and and Joseph Makoti worked in coal mines in Secunda and contracted pnuemoconosis. Many miners and local people suffer from respiratory diseases. Makoti is showing pictures of his di
info
×
September 14, 2015: A dust storm engulfs a traditional windmill, used to pump borehole water out of the ground on a farm between Ermelo and Carolina in Mpumalanga. the farmers yields are getting smaller as South Africa goes through one of its most severe
September 14, 2015: A dust storm engulfs a traditional windmill, used to pump borehole water out of the ground on a farm between Ermelo and Carolina in Mpumalanga. the farmers yields are getting smaller as South Africa goes through one of its most severe
info
×
Using Format