The South African coalmining industry has a rich and long history and contributes significantly to the economic wellbeing of the country. Despite its importance in developing the economy, the industry is causing severe environmental challenges. For example, Emalahleni, a city situated in the Mpumalanga Province in South Africa, has been exposed for over a century to the continuous mining of coal. Challenges experienced include the sterilisation of land due to underground fires, water pollution, surface collapse, and acidification of topsoil. Previous work by the researchers formulated a conceptual framework aimed at addressing some of these challenges. In an extension of this work, the authors comprehensively enhance the preliminary framework on the strength of a set of qualitative propositions coupled with a parallel, exploratory survey. Interviews among various stakeholders were conducted, aimed at enhancing the components of the framework, followed by a focus group to validate the associations among the components of the framework. Aspects reinforced by the survey findings include the role of environmental management accounting, tools like material-flow cost accounting and life-cycle costing, and regulatory and accountability aspects. New aspects elicited from the interviews and the focus group include stakeholder education and training with respect to the value of environmental management accounting for the coalmining industry; adherence to risk management linked to environmental challenges; advanced technologies, for example, financial modelling; and an improved understanding of waste management aspects around acid mine drainage, volatile organic components, CO2
emissions, and post-mine closure. The novelty of the work lies in the approach taken to address coalmining challenges. Previous authors concentrated mostly on scientific and engineering aspects, while this research looks at it from an accounting perspective using environmental management accounting tools to address these challenges.
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