South Africa’s Dirty, Dirty Coal

In coal dominated South Africa, Vincent is taking a stand against dirty coal.

A former miner, he is now part of a coalition of groups exposing the dangers of coal mining to people, communities and the climate.

Photo credit: Leeroy Jason

In the world’s fifth largest coal producer (and sixth consumer) that is no easy task. Big coal companies like Eskom keep expanding their business — thanks to subsidies and tax cuts from the South African government, Eskom is building the two largest coal power stations in the world.

Photo credit: Leeroy Jason

But that’s not stopping Vincent. His body has scars from falling rocks inside of coal mines, his health is compromised after years of inhaling toxic smoke. But those are exactly the reasons why he’s up against the coal industry.

Photo credit: Leeroy Jason

With so many people in South Africa trying to make a decent living, coal mining seems to be an option for people to provide the basics for their families — despite the terrible working conditions, most people say they have no choice.

But Vincent is there to remind them that they do have a choice. He is there to remind them about Marikana — the name of a mine where, in August 10, 2012, 34 miners were killed by the police during a strike. They were demanding better work conditions. They were demanding compensation for health problems they developed from digging the dirtiest source of energy you can find in the world.

Photo credit: Leeroy Jason

Yet that’s how coal operates — it seduces the ones who are in most need to feed their families and power their houses. It drags them into years of terrible and often deadly work conditions, with irreversible health hazards. It promises to be the cheapest energy resource, to provide energy for the poor, to be the solution to poverty.

Photo credit: Leeroy Jason

Vincent is there to show that the poor are, actually, the first victims of this dangerous business.

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