Archaetnos cc was requested by Geovicon to assess the possible impact of prospecting work at the Silver Unicorn Mahlaleni Colliery on graves identified by the mine. The mine is located towards the north-east op Middelburg and towards the north-west of Belfast Mpumalanga.


The prospecting consists of the drilling of holes to determine the availability and depth of coal seam in the area. The aim of this study was to advise and make recommendations in this regard.


A Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) was not conducted, since the site was already known. An HIA was however done on other surrounding land (see Van Vollenhoven and Smit 2018), where current mining activities are in process. Should the exploration lead to future mining in the area, an HIA will be conducted.


Nevertheless, the same principles as that of an HIA was implemented. The site was visited in order to obtain contextual information. The site visit was also used to count and document the graves in order to utilize this in recommending appropriate action.


There are two options when dealing with graves. Both options are discussed in the report. A risk assessment is done, in which the two options are compared to one another. In order to facilitate preservation and prevent possible future delays during the implementation of the development, appropriate mitigation measures are recommended. The development can continue once the SAHRA BGG Unit allows it.


In conclusion it is clear that that the graves are demarcated properly. It also is 370 m away from the nearest boreholes proposed. Drilling as part of prospecting activities in any event has a low impact.


It therefore is safe to say that the possible impact of the prospecting activities on the graves is almost negligible. The site is excluded from the development and as long as it stays this way, the status quo is acceptable.


The final recommendations therefore are as follows:


  • The fence around the graves should remain intact.


  • No development is to be allowed within a 20 m buffer around the graves.


  • The prospecting activities may continue.


  • Should the mine decide in future to mine in the vicinity of the graves, an additional HIA should be prepared.


  • Should the HIA determine that the graves remain in situ, a CMP for the graves should be drafted in line with the SAHRA guidelines in this regard.

Report by

Prof. A.C. van Vollenhoven (L.AKAD.SA.) Accredited member of ASAPA Accredited member of SASCH