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24 Nov 2021

Sheree Bega, Mail & Guardian (South Africa)

S. A: Chinese govt. cancels proposed 3GW coal plant in the Limpopo’s Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone

‘China won’t fund coal power for Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone, ambassador confirms’ 18 November 2021

The government of the People’s Republic of China has confirmed that it will no longer be funding a new 1 320MW to 3 300MW coal-fired power plant for the controversial planned Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone (MMSEZ), which includes various heavy industries. This follows the announcement by Chinese Premier Xi Jinping at the UN on 21 September that China would no longer finance new coal power abroad. After Jinping’s pronouncement, David Le Page, the co-ordinator of Fossil Free SA, wondered about the implications of the announcement for the “giant, very dirty” coal-fired power plant proposed for the Chinese-financed MMSEZ.

“We applaud China’s ongoing commitment to harmony between humanity and nature; green transition and global sustainable development; social equity and justice; and a fair and equitable international governance system based on international law.” Le Page noted that various Chinese institutions, including the Bank of China, have, until recently, been linked to the funding of coal power and mining developments for the MMSEZ. In his letter, on 9 November, China’s ambassador to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong, confirmed that China “will not build new coal-fired projects abroad”.

… According to Fossil Free South Africa, the “dirty energy project” was highly controversial from the start. “MMSEZ proposals had included at least 20 industrial plants for processes including coking, coal washing, a coking plant, ferrochrome and ferromanganese and stainless steel, and lime and cement plants, powered by a bespoke giant 3GW coal-fired power station. All these facilities would be very high emitters of greenhouse gases.” It said the carbon emissions from a 3GW coal-fired plant and associated carbon-intensive industries have been omitted from South Africa’s integrated resource plan planning process, and will make it “impossible for South Africa to meet its international commitments on greenhouse gas emissions reductions”.