A REPORT ON A HERITAGE IMPACT ASSESSMENT FOR THE PROPOSED NEW RAILWAY BRIDGE AT THE BLACK ROCK MINING OPERATIONS, CLOSE TO HOTAZEL, NORTHERN CAPE PROVINCE
Archaetnos cc was appointed by EScience Associates (Pty) Ltd to conduct a cultural heritage study for the proposed new railway bridge within the Black Rock Mining Operations (BMRO). BRMO is situated in the Northern Cape Province approximately 80 km north-west of the town of Kuruman and 12 kilometres north-west of Hotazel. BRMO falls within the jurisdiction of the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality.
An existing rail link line runs from BRMO to the Hotazel mainline. The link line passes over the Gamagara river to the south east of the Gloria mine. The rail bridge over the Gamagara river is lower than the surrounding land and therefore trains run through a dip as they cross the river. This significant change in elevation restricts the loads that can practically be transported by the mine due to the train engine power required to push trains through the dip.
BRMO thus proposes to build a new rail bridge adjacent to the existing bridge that will enable heavier loads to be transported via the rail link (Figure 2-3). The rail link will also be upgraded by building a new adjacent line within the existing rail line servitude of the link line. The railway is dealt with as part of a Heritage Exemption application, to be submitted to the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA).
The proposed bridge will be parallel to the existing bridge and no more than 5 m apart from it. It will be approximately 75 m long and 6 m wide and will be at least 10,5 m above the river bed.
A survey of literature was undertaken in order to obtain background information regarding the area. The field survey 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.
No sites of cultural heritage importance were identified. However stone tools were identified in the study area. The existing bridge is younger than 60 years of age.
The final recommendations are as follows:
- The current bridge site may be left as it is and even still be utilised together with the new one. If not, it may be left to deteriorate naturally as this report is seen as ample mitigation thereof.
- It is unlikely that any of the Stone Age sites identified during previous surveys will be impacted on. However, the mine needs to ensure that this remain the case by staying at least 20 m away from each.
- This report is seen as ample mitigation and the development may therefore continue, but only after receiving the necessary approval from SAHRA.
- It should be remembered that due to archaeological sites being subterranean in essence, it is possible that all cultural sites may not have been identified. Care should therefore be taken when development work commences that, if any more artifacts are uncovered, a qualified archaeologist be called in to investigate.
- Proposed management measures for potential impacts, which should be followed as heritage protocol and Chance Find Procedure :
- Loose stone tools found are usually of minor significance and should just be left as it is.
- Areas where a substantial number of stone tools are found together should be geo-referenced and left alone until such time as an archaeologist can visit the site to determine its significance.
- Although chances of finding Iron Age remains are slim, it should be treated similar to the above. Potshards found out of context should be left alone, but areas with stone walling or substantial pottery and other cultural remains should be geo-referenced and left alone until investigated by an archaeologist.
- All buildings and remains of buildings and other structures believed to be older than 60 years should be geo-referenced and left alone until and a heritage expert can be called in to determine the cultural significance thereof.
- Graves should be left in situ, geo-referenced and left alone until investigated by an archaeologist.
- Should any of the above be identified, the area should be demarcated to ensure no impact until further investigation has been done.
Prof. A.C. van Vollenhoven (L. Akad. S.A.)
Accredited member of ASAPA
Accredited member of SASCH