eMalahleni (Witbank) is situated in the highveld of Mpumalanga, South Africa.
Coal simply bursts out of the ground in the Witbank area. The first Europeans to pass this way noticed coal in the beds of streams. Coal was used for campfires, and wagons carried away as much of it as possible to burn in the stoves of nearby farmhouses.
A staging post for wagons was established close to a large outcrop of whitish stones which gave Witbank ('white ridge') its name.
eMalahleni (Witbank) was established in 1890 and early attempts to exploit the coal deposits failed until the railway from Pretoria reached the area in 1894. It was proclaimed a town in 1903 and became a municipality in 1914. In the 1994 AWB invasion of Bophuthatswana, eMalahleni (Witbank) was one of the right- wing strongholds where AWB commandos were called in from.
When the railway from Pretoria to Lourenco Marques(Maputo) was built in 1894 it passed close to eMalahleni (Witbank) and a full-scale coal industry developed. Today there are at least 22 coal mines in an area of no more than 40 km. The increase in mining activity pollution has become a major problem with many wetlands, streams and rivers now clogged with coal dust. The farm land surrounding Witbank and nearby Middelburg is fast being eaten up by coal mines which are a blight on the horizon.
There are a number of power stations (such as the Duvha Power Station), as well as a steel mill, Highveld Steel and Vanadium Corporation, nearby which all require coal.
A dam on the Olifants River, on the outskirts of eMalahleni (Witbank), is a pleasant recreational area.
On 3 March 2006, Witbank was oficially renamed eMalahleni, to match the name of the municipality that contains it.
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