African Journal on Conflict Resolution

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Conflict implications of coal mining and environmental pollution in South Africa: Lessons from Niger Delta, Nigeria

Adejoke C. Olufemi, Paul O. Bello, Andile Mji


Globally, mining and combustion of fossil fuels, especially coal, have resulted in various environmental problems. The adverse effects of these industries on human health, agriculture and the general ecosystem, and how they could result in conf lict, have been widely reported. Firstly, this study examines the current state of environmental pollution at a few places in South Africa, and how it could possibly result in environmental conf lict between the affected communities and the polluting industries. Secondly, using Nigeria as a case study, it suggests pre-emptive measures that can be taken to forestall such conflict. The issues raised in this study are supported by findings from previous studies conducted at Emalahleni, in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. This study used a mixed-methods  approach involving interviews with relevant stakeholders and scientific analysis to prove the levels of pollution in the Emalahleni area. The levels of certain air pollutants which are commonly linked with coal combustion and mining activities were assessed at five different schools around mines. Based on these scientific and qualitative results and other issues raised in this study, a number of recommendations are made. It was found that air pollution is a problem which cannot be ignored and immediate action should be taken to avoid future problems.

Keywords: Coal mining, industries, pollution, environment, health implications, South Africa

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