South African Province Clears Way for $10 Billion Coal Complex

In addition, the Chinese government has said that it would not invest in coal projects outside of China. [Image: courtesy]
South Africa—A Chinese-backed project to spend more than $10 billion developing a 4,600-megawatt coal-fired power station, a cooking facility, and ferroalloy and steel mills received environmental approval in South Africa’s Limpopo region.

According to South Africa’s Trade, Industry, and Competition ministry, the approval endorsed the formation of the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone, in which a number of Chinese businesses have vowed to invest.

The project, which is not included in the country’s emissions objectives, may face opposition at the national level from campaigners concerned about its impact on thousands of Baobab trees, which take hundreds of years to develop, water sources, and air pollution.

In addition, the Chinese government has said that it would not invest in coal projects outside of China.

The province recognized the possible impact on ancient tombs, but warned against air pollution, adding that mitigation measures would be required and that water would be transported from Zimbabwe. Nonetheless, the decision was justified by the fact that the province is the poorest in South Africa and has a high unemployment rate.