groundWork is a non-profit environmental justice service and developmental organization working primarily in Southern Africa in the areas of Climate & Energy Justice, Coal, Environmental Health, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals, and Waste.



Zero Hour cover

Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 23 May 2016 – The Centre for Environmental Rights’ latest report Zero Hour: Poor Governance of Mining and the Violation of Environmental Rights in Mpumalanga [1], has found that the Department of Minerals Resources (DMR) has placed South Africa’s strategic water source areas at serious risk of endemic contamination. This while the country remains slave to the worst drought it has experienced in 30 years.

Last week, the International Federation of Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) pledged $110 million to a new initiative to help drought-stricken Southern African countries, including South Africa.

Despite Mpumalanga containing areas of hydrological significance, which are critical for the country’s supply of potable water, the DMR has continued to grant mining and water use rights in these areas, particularly for coal developments. While the mining industry uses up and pollutes this water the people of South Africa are at risk of not having access to clean water.

Read the full media advisory here.


Cape Town, South Africa, 18 May 2016 – In late February 2015, despite intense civil society opposition, the Department of Environmental Affairs’ National Air Quality Officer largely approved Eskom’s applications to postpone compliance with the air pollution minimum emission standards that applied from 1 April 2015. These standards were then incorporated into Eskom’s licences.

Despite the reprieve granted to Eskom, even the postponed compliance with the air emission standards means that Eskom must act now to ensure that it has the relevant funds and approvals in place in time to start installation of the equipment necessary to limit the air pollution from its coal-fired power stations.

Read the full media advisory here.


Fuleni/Richards Bay, South Africa, 21 April 2016 – This morning an angry but well-behaved crowd of well over a thousand Fuleni residents forced the Regional Mining Development Environmental Committee (RMDEC) to abort their visit to Fuleni, the site of Ibutho Coal's proposed open cast mine on the boundary of the iMfolozi Wilderness Area. The site visit was to familiarise RMDEC with the area before the meeting tomorrow, at 10h30, at Enseleni Nature Reserve, KZN, to hear submissions from I&APs and their lawyers to substantiate their comments and objections to the Fuleni mine.

Irate Fuleni residents blocked the main road to Ocilwane with rocks and burning tyres to create a barricade to prevent vehicles entering Fuleni. Ocilwane is the village that will be most affected by the proposed coal mine. The police eventually managed to get assistance from members of the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO) and researchers from the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) – UKZN, who persuaded the local residents to assist with removing the rocks and tyres.

Click here to read the full media advisory.

GOVERNMENT TO SIGN ONTO SHAM OF A PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT - We can’t count on the Paris Agreement to stop climate change

Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 20 April 2016 – The Paris Climate Agreement will this Friday be signed by representatives of over 130 nations, including South Africa, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. According to environmental justice organisation groundWork [1], the commitments made in Paris were too late and too weak. This means that the hope to keep the temperature increase to below 1.5 degrees has been overshot. 

This signing on by parties brings them one step closer towards ratifying a meaningless agreement through national parliaments in most cases – with nations turning their intended pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (known as INDCs) into their agreed actual climate contribution to the climate effort.

This does not bring the world closer to a real solution for climate change. To the contrary, it stands in the way of real solutions. The world’s leaders are calling on us to have faith in them but the call is made in bad faith; the world’s leaders are leading us to ever growing destruction.

Read the full media advisory here.


Sphiwe Mazibuko's 9 minute documentary exposes the intimidation and violence facing anti-mining activists on the Wild Coast and Zululand, in South Africa. Xolobeni residents have fought for 10 years to prevent an Australian company from mining their titanium rich dunes.

The unwavering response of the Pondo people to protect their traditional lands, a paradise where they have lived for over 1500 years, has been met by increasing intimidation and violence that culminated in the violent murder of Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, on 22 March 2016. Two men posing as police arrived at night and shot Rhadebe 8 times in the head in front of his 15 year old son. The next person on the hit list, Nonhle Mbuthuma, is featured in this film together with four other activists on the Wild Coast whose lives have been threatened. In Zululand, mining activists from Fuleni, Somkhele and Melmoth also face death threats. Reverend Mavuso frequently has to go into hiding for fear of his life, while the police have been notified of recent death threats to Phila Ndimande. Bongani Pearce’s vehicle was burned after a peaceful protest march following 8 years of being silenced by corrupt traditional leaders and exploited by Tendele’s Somkhele coal mine.

The film was commissioned by Mupo Foundation (now EarthLore) and funded by the European Commission, and can be viewed here.


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