Fuelling injustice: Women's rights and Australian coal mining in Africa



The purpose of this report is to identify for the first time the scale of Australian companies’ coal interests in Africa and the potential carbon liability this represents, and to examine some of the potential climate impacts and implications for women’s rights and sustainable development across the continent.

It also points to an alternative vision of sustainable development that has been developed by women’s organisations in Africa, and makes recommendations to the Australian Government and policy-makers.

Download the report:

Fuelling injustice: Women’s rights and Australian coal mining in Africa

The report concludes with an Appendix that explains the methodology used for assessing the coal reserves and carbon liability of the coal projects identified.


Africa Down Under Graphic


Key Findings:

For Australian companies in Africa, coal is the second most prevalent commodity after gold
  • These projects are heavily concentrated in South Africa, with a small number in Botswana and Tanzania
  • The vast majority of these projects are proposed mines that would open up new reserves of coal for coalfired electricity generation
  • Australian companies’ coal projects in Africa contain 34 billion tonnes of coal, more than three times Adani’s Carmichael mine
  • This represents up to an estimated 45 billion tonnes of potential carbon emissions
  • Given the need to rapidly decarbonise the global economy to have any chance of avoiding the most dangerous levels of climate change, there is no room of any new coal mines within our very limited global carbon budget, therefore it is imperative that this coal stays in the ground.

Executive Summary:

In the past decade, Australia’s mining presence in Africa has rapidly expanded. Politicians and the industry alike have argued that this expansion will support sustainable development, and could permanently lift millions of people in Africa out of poverty. This claim, however, has been made in the absence of adequate publicly accessible data on the location, scale, and impacts of Australian mining projects in Africa. In particular, there has been little data on the scale of Australia’s fossil fuel interests in Africa.

This report draws on recently released data to assess these claims for the rst time, and nds that Australia has signi cant coal interests in Africa. It nds that coal is the second most prevalent commodity invested in by Australian companies, and that the potential carbon liability is enormous: these projects have coal reserves three times that of the proposed Carmichael mine

in Queensland. Their total emissions potential is at least 18% of the entire global carbon budget to give a reasonable chance of limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees.

In addition, Australia’s signi cant coal interests in Africa raise major questions about the potential risk of violations of human rights, and especially women’s rights, that may be occurring as a result of insuf cient transparency and regulation of the industry by the Australian Government.

The extractives industry in Africa has been linked to major human rights violations, and women have faced the worst impacts. The sector has been found to contribute to gender-based violence, increased HIV rates, displacement of communities, environmental degradation, and severe and chronic health problems. The coal industry in particular has had major impacts on women’s unpaid labour due to the signi cant pollution it causes

"Because we don't own this land and we don't own this home, I am concerned that we will be relocated again."

Zodwa Mabaso

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