So. Africa: Coal mining pollution in Mpumalanga province photographically documented

Author: Kim Harrisberg, Thomson Reuters, Published on: 29 October 2019

‘Dusty air, milky water: South African photographer captures coal-mining pollution’

Gas-billowing coal plants, cracked earth, abandoned mines and lifeless water. These are some of the stark images documenting coal mining pollution in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. These photographs, in a recently launched book called Broken Land and an exhibition in Johannesburg, display the work of South African photojournalist Daylin Paul who spent four years documenting the environmental impacts of South Africa’s coal industry. “In Mpumalanga there is dust everywhere. The water is milky. The air is a smoggy brown and it burns your throat to breathe,” said 34-year-old, speaking from London, where he is hoping to bring his exhibition.

…For now coal is taking a heavy toll in the communities surrounding the country’s coal plants and mines, who are “having their basic human rights taken away”, Paul said. “Rights to clean water, air (and) land to farm and support their families are not being fulfilled,” said Paul, adding that he hoped the photographs made people angry enough to act…“The mines are often left as open pits,” said Paul. “When rain comes in, it turns the earth into quicksand filled with sulphuric acid. I was told that people had fallen in and burned to death.”

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