Renewable Matter # 16 / May-June

Water vs. Coal. South Africa's Filthy War

by Emanuele Bompan

South Africa receives only 490 mm of annual rainfall, but the economy is structured as if there were great water availability. The contradictions of a country where in order to extract a tonne of coal over 10,000 litres of water and hundreds of thousands of litres per minute are used to cool turbines in power plants. While in many villages, people have access to only three and a half litres of water per day per person.


Photography: Fausto Podavini

Research: Marirosa Iannelli

Top image: Witbank. In a coal mine a woman collects coal for personal use. Coal is the only resource for locals. 


“Do you know what it means to be close to a power plant? Being close to trouble.” Tiger B., is 41 years old, though he...

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