This webinar featured a panel of experts to unpack the needs and concerns of coal affected regions in Mpumalanga, focusing on the case Emalahleni Local Municipality. The municipality has the third-largest population in the province, which is estimated to reach 800,000 by 2030. In response to economic opportunity, the municipality is seeing significant in-migration, creating challenges in planning for and servicing growing informal areas. For example, its debt to Eskom exceeds R4 billion.
Mining contributes 51% to the municipality’s local economy, providing significant employment. The town has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the province and contributes almost half of Nkangala District’s economic activity. However, mining also contributes to air pollution, water contamination and biodiversity loss. Given the prevalence of mining operations, Emalahleni and its residents are significantly exposed to the current and future social-ecological externalities of mining and transition risk. As these mines reach the end of their lifespans and South Africa implements its coal power decommissioning schedule, the successful implementation of closure plans will be critical to a local just transition.
This webinar focuses on foregrounding the complex interconnected energy, service delivery and ecological challenges facing the municipality and possible strategies to respond. These include proposals related to service delivery and issues of economic diversification.