A report on a cultural heritage impact assessment done for the proposed management activities and related environmental authorisation application at Roy Point Mine in Newcastle, Kwazulu-Natal ProvinceSummary
Archaetnos cc was requested by GCS to conduct a cultural heritage impact assessment (HIA) for the proposed management activities and related environmental authorization application at Roy Point Mine. This is in Newcastle in the KwaZulu-Natal Province.
The following is applicable:
• Applicant: South32 Coal SA (CSA)
• Project name: Roy Point Environmental Authorisation Application
The study was done to assess the potential impacts of the proposed phytoremediation at Roy Point Mine and supporting documentation to the application for environmental authorization in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act no. 107 of 1998) (NEMA) and the National Water Act, 1998 (Act no. 36 of 1998) (NWA).
The mine is located on certain portions of the farm Roy Point 2959 HS. The project form part of the rehabilitation of the mine which is not in operation any more. The area that was surveyed is earmarked for a plantation which will assist with the control of water.
The Terms of Reference for the survey were to:
1. Identify as much as possible objects, sites, occurrences and structures of an archaeological or historical nature (cultural heritage sites) located on the property.
2. Study background information on the area to be developed.
3. Assess the significance of the cultural resources in terms of their archaeological, historical, scientific, social, religious, aesthetic and tourism value.
4. Describe the possible impact of the proposed development on these cultural remains, according to a standard set of conventions.
5. Recommend suitable mitigation measures to minimize possible negative impacts on the cultural resources by the proposed development.
6. Review applicable legislative requirements.
The following conditions and assumptions have a direct bearing on the survey and the resulting report:
1. Cultural Resources are all non-physical and physical man-made occurrences, as well as natural occurrences associated with human activity. These include all sites, structure and artifacts of importance, either individually or in groups, in
the history, architecture and archaeology of human (cultural) development. Graves and cemeteries are included in this.
2. The significance of the sites, structures and artifacts is determined by means of their historical, social, aesthetic, technological and scientific value in relation to their uniqueness, condition of preservation and research potential. The various aspects are not mutually exclusive, and the evaluation of any site is done with reference to any number of these aspects.
3. Cultural significance is site-specific and relates to the content and context of the site. Sites regarded as having low cultural significance have already been recorded in full and require no further mitigation. Sites with medium cultural significance may or may not require mitigation depending on other factors such as the significance of impact on the site. Sites with a high cultural significance require further mitigation.
4. The latitude and longitude of any archaeological or historical site or feature, is to be treated as sensitive information by the developer and should not be disclosed to members of the public.
5. All recommendations are made with full cognizance of the relevant legislation.
6. It has to be mentioned that it is almost impossible to locate all the cultural resources in a given area, as it will be very time consuming. Developers should however note that the report should make it clear how to handle any other finds that might occur. In this case there were certain areas where the vegetation cover was very dense which had a negative effect on archaeological visibility.
7. It also is impossible to know everything about a specific environment related to the history of a site. Although a background study is done to determine the baseline data of the area, it will always lack completeness.
8. As far as Gaps in Knowledge are concerned the biggest problem is that there is no comprehensive database with information of the history and archaeology of South Africa. The South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) has a system, called SAHRIS, where all heritage related reports are being stored. Although this does create some sort of a database it only contains information since 2012. Older information are however gradually been introduced to SAHRIS.
9. It is impossible to survey an entire area, especially with large developments. It would be extremely costly. Although the aim is to identify as much as possible, a heritage survey therefore always may not identify everything of heritage value in an area.
Aspects concerning the conservation of cultural resources are dealt with mainly in two acts. These are the National Heritage Resources Act (Act 25 of 1999) and the National Environmental Management Act (Act 107 of 1998).
According to the National Heritage Resources Act the following is protected as cultural heritage resources:
a. Archaeological artifacts, structures and sites older than 100 years
b. Ethnographic art objects (e.g. prehistoric rock art) and ethnography
c. Objects of decorative and visual arts
d. Military objects, structures and sites older than 75 years
e. Historical objects, structures and sites older than 60 years
f. Proclaimed heritage sites
g. Grave yards and graves older than 60 years
h. Meteorites and fossils
i. Objects, structures and sites of scientific or technological value.
A Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) is the process to be followed in order to determine whether any heritage resources are located within the area to be developed as well as the possible impact of the proposed development thereon.
The act also states that no person may, without a permit issued by the responsible heritage resources authority (national or provincial):
a. destroy, damage, excavate, alter, deface or otherwise disturb any archaeological or paleontological site or any meteorite;
b. destroy, damage, excavate, remove from its original position, collect or own any archaeological or paleontological material or object or any meteorite;
c. trade in, sell for private gain, export or attempt to export from the Republic any category of archaeological or paleontological material or object, or any meteorite; or
d. Bring onto or use at an archaeological or paleontological site any excavation equipment or any equipment that assists in the detection or recovery of metals or archaeological and paleontological material or objects, or use such equipment for the recovery of meteorites.
e. Alter or demolish any structure or part of a structure which is older than 60 years as protected.
The above mentioned may only be disturbed or moved by an archaeologist, after receiving a permit from the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA). In order to demolish such a site or structure, a destruction permit from SAHRA will also be needed.
Graves and burial grounds are also regulated by this act and are divided into the following:
a. ancestral graves
b. royal graves and graves of traditional leaders
c. graves of victims of conflict
d. graves designated by the Minister
e. historical graves and cemeteries
f. human remains
In terms of Section 36(3) of the National Heritage Resources Act, no person may, without a permit issued by the relevant heritage resources authority:
a. destroy, damage, alter, exhume or remove from its original position of otherwise disturb the grave of a victim of conflict, or any burial ground or part thereof which contains such graves;
b. destroy, damage, alter, exhume or remove from its original position or otherwise disturb any grave or burial ground older than 60 years which is situated outside a formal cemetery administered by a local authority; or
c. Bring onto or use at a burial ground or grave referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) any excavation, or any equipment which assists in the detection or recovery of metals.
All graves older than 60 years are called heritage graves and should be handled by an archaeologist. This includes archaeological graves, which are older than 100 years. Unidentified/unknown graves (which refers to date of death) are also handled as older than 60 until proven otherwise.
Human remains that are less than 60 years old are subject to provisions of the Human Tissue Act (Act 65 of 1983) and to local regulations. Exhumation of graves must conform to the standards set out in the Ordinance on Excavations (Ordinance no. 12 of 1980) (replacing the old Transvaal Ordinance no. 7 of 1925).
Permission must also be gained from the descendants (where known), the National Department of Health, Provincial Department of Health, Premier of the Province and local police. Furthermore, permission must also be gained from the various landowners (i.e. where the graves are located and where they are to be relocated) before exhumation can take place.
The National Environmental Management Act states that a survey and evaluation of cultural resources must be done in areas where development projects, that will change the face of the environment, will be undertaken. The impact of the development on these resources should be determined and proposals for the mitigation thereof be made.
Environmental management should also take the cultural and social needs of people into account. Any disturbance of landscapes and sites that constitute the nation’s cultural heritage should be avoided as far as possible and where this is not possible the disturbance should be minimized and remedied.
The field survey for the project was conducted according to generally accepted HIA practices and was aimed at locating all possible objects, sites and features of cultural significance in the area of proposed development. One regularly looks a bit wider than the demarcated area, as the surrounding context needs to be taken into consideration.
If required, the location/position of any site was determined by means of a Global Positioning System (GPS), while photographs were also taken where needed. The survey was undertaken by doing a physical survey via off-road vehicle and on foot and covered as much as possible of the area to be studied.
All sites, objects features and structures identified were documented according to the general minimum standards accepted by the archaeological profession. Co-ordinates of individual localities were determined by means of the GPS. The information was added to the description in order to facilitate the identification of each locality.
The evaluation of heritage sites is done by giving a field rating of each using the following criteria:
• The unique nature of a site
• The integrity of the archaeological deposit
• The wider historic, archaeological and geographic context of the site
• The location of the site in relation to other similar sites or features
• The depth of the archaeological deposit (when it can be determined or is known)
• The preservation condition of the site
• Uniqueness of the site and
• Potential to answer present research questions.
The surveyed area is almost completely disturbed. This makes sense as it used to be mined and is now to be rehabilitated. The northern section of the surveyed area used to be an opencast mining pit and the southern used for underground mining.
In the northern section therefore many signs of disturbance are visible. This includes old mining features and erosion. In the southern area the ground in certain sections have caved in due to the underground mining activities. Signs of old and current fields are also visible in the north.
In most of the area the vegetation cover consist of short grass and other pioneer species. In certain section the grass cover varies between medium and high. The vegetation cover in general is dense. The horizontal archaeological visibility therefore is reasonably good, but the vertical archaeological visibility only reasonably good.
Isolated clumps of trees were identified. These mostly contained heritage sites. This is due to the stone walling preventing animals from grazing on small plants which then grow larger due to the protection given by archaeological remains.
The topography of the area is dominated by a hill towards the south-west. The hill was however not included in the area to be investigated. The investigated area form a horseshoe-shape around the hill from which it slopes away.
The following is recommended:
• Thirty-two sites of cultural importance were identified during the survey. These are divided into three categories, being graves, Late Iron Age/ Historical stone walled sites and a combination of graves and Late Iron Age/ Historical stone walled sites.
• The grave sites are no. 3, 9, 12, 14, 18, 27, 29, 30 and 31 as well as graves at the combined sites no. 1, 6, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26 and 28.
• The Late Iron Age/ Historical stone walled sites are no. 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 16, 17, 25 and 32 as well as those at the combined sites no. 1, 6, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26 and 28.
• Graves are always regarded as having a high cultural significance. The field rating is Local Grade IIIB. It should be included in the heritage register and mitigation measures must be implemented if any development activities takes place in its vicinity.
• Two possibilities exist. The first option would be to fence the graves in and have a management plan drafted for the sustainable preservation thereof. This should be compiled by a heritage expert. This option is relevant when the graves are in no danger of being damaged or destroyed by the development (direct impacts). Secondary impact due to the development activities may still exist and must be managed.
• The second option is to exhume the mortal remains and to have it relocated. This usually is relevant when the graves will be directly affected (damaged or destroyed) by the development. In this case specific procedures should be followed which includes social consultation. Graves younger than 60 years may be exhumed only by an undertaker. For those older than 60 years, and unknown graves, an undertaker and archaeologist should be appointed. Permits must be obtained from the Burial Grounds and Graves unit of SAHRA. This procedure is quite lengthy and involves social consultation.
• All the graves are unknown (date of death) and are therefore handled similar to heritage graves. In all cases no direct impact is foreseen. Due to the closeness to the development an indirect impact is expected and therefore Option 1 is recommended.
• A buffer zone of 20 m is recommended, meaning that no trees may be planted closer than 20 m from sites.
• The same would go for the combined sites as these contain graves.
• All the graves and stone walled sites date to the first half of the 20th century.
• Stone walled sites are given a rating of low cultural significance. The field rating is General protection C (IV C). This means that this Phase 1 report is seen as sufficient recording and it may be demolished if necessary.
• However, in this case where it is proposed to plant trees, it may be left to deteriorate through a natural process. The combined sites should be handled similarly o those only containing graves.
• After implementation of the mitigation measures recommended, the proposed development may continue. Development consist of rehabilitation of the area by the planting of trees.
• It should be noted that the subterranean presence of archaeological and/or historical sites, features or artifacts is always a distinct possibility. Care should therefore be taken when development commences that if any of these are discovered, a qualified archaeologist be called in to investigate the occurrence.
Dr. A.C. van Vollenhoven (L.AKAD.SA.)