A report on a cultural heritage impact assessment for new activities at the open cast Kriel mining operations at the Kriel Colliery, Mpumalanga Province
Archaetnos cc was requested by SRK Consulting to conduct a cultural heritage impact assessment (HIA) for the proposed extension of mining at the Kriel Colliery in the Mpumalanga Province. The development constitutes work on the farms Vierfontein 61 IS, Roodepoort 40 IS, Nooitgedacht 59 IS, Roodebloem 58 IS and Onverwacht 70 IS. This was done in April 2010.
However some infrastructure was planned for the mine and therefore it was decided to do another study on the areas to be affected by these, being the routes for two options for a dragline and one for a conveyer belt. The client indicated the areas where the proposed development is to take place and the survey was confined to this area.
A survey of the available literature was undertaken in order to obtain background information regarding the area. This was followed by the field survey which was conducted according to generally accepted HIA practices, aimed at locating all possible objects, sites and features of cultural significance in the area of proposed development.
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 a Global Positioning System (GPS). The information was added to photographs and the description in order to facilitate the identification of each locality.
During the survey no additional sites of cultural heritage significance were located in the indicated areas. However five grave sites identified during the first HIA were found to be relatively close to the proposed routes for the dragline and conveyor. No other cultural resources were identified. It is however known that some Iron Age occurrences were identified in the greater Kriel area as well as remains from the recent past.
The five grave yards date to the Historical Age. As it is difficult to know exactly what the location of the dragline and conveyor routes is (it is quite difficult to determine this when standing in the open veld or mealie fields) these are discussed and coordinates given in order for the mine to be able to place it on proper scale maps. It would then be possible to determine whether there would be a direct or indirect impact on these. This needs to be confirmed by the mine.
With graves it usually is best to incorporate it into the development plan for the mine. Should this be possible, the sites not impacted on directly, should be fenced in and maintained. However, access to any descendants should also be allowed. This may create logistical problems for the mine and therefore this option should be considered very carefully. A management plan for these also needs to be drafted by a heritage expert and be implemented by the mine.
Should this not be possible the graves will have to be exhumed and the bodies reburied. This process is a lengthy process including social consultation in order to find families of the deceased and to obtain their permission. In the case of graves older than 60 years and those with an unknown date of death an archaeologist as well as an undertaker will have to be part of the team involved. A permit from SAHRA will also need to be obtained. For graves with a date of death of younger than 60 years, only an undertaker is involved.
The proposed development may continue only after proper implementation of the mitigation measures recommended.
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 mining commences that if any of these are discovered, a qualified archaeologist be called in to investigate.
Dr. A.C. van Vollenhoven (L.AKAD.SA.)