Dumisani Mahlangu sits in the cab of a dragline excavator, digging 40-tonne shovels of coal from an opencast mine outside Johannesburg. “Coal has made me what I am,” he says of his well-paid job in a country where one in three people lacks work. “I wanted to be a doctor, but God put me in the mines.”
South Africa is among the world’s most coal-dependent nations. Coal accounts for roughly 85 per cent of its electricity, making the country of 60mn people the world’s 13th-biggest emitter of carbon, bigger than Britain.