A report on a heritage impact assessment for the proposed benefication plant at Kriel Colliery, Mpumalanga Province


Archaetnos cc was appointed by SRK to conduct a cultural heritage study for the proposed benefication plant at the Kriel Colliery. This is located close to the town of Kriel in the Mpumalanga Province.

The benefication plant will include a discard facility close to current operations at the mine. The client indicated the area where the proposed development is to take place. The field survey was confined to this area.

The heritage survey was done to identify objects, sites, occurrences and structures of an archaeological or historical nature (cultural heritage sites) located on the property. These also needs to be assessed it terms of significance relating to archaeological, historical, scientific, social, religious, aesthetic and tourism value. Possible impact on these are to be described and recommend for suitable mitigation measures proposed.

Cultural Resources are all non-physical and physical man-made occurrences, as well as natural occurrences associated with human activity. Cultural significance is site-specific and relates to the content and context of the site.

The methodology for the survey included a survey of literature which was undertaken in order to obtain background information regarding the area. This was followed by a field survey. 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 Global Positioning System (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.

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). These are shortly discussed in the report.

During the survey one site of cultural heritage significance was located in the area to be developed. It is a grave yard belonging to the Historical Age. No Stone or Iron Age sites were identified. This is not surprising as the broader geographical area is not known for such sites.

The site found is a grave yard consisting of 14 graves. Graves always are regarded as having a high cultural significance. In this case there are two categories of graves being those older than 60 years and those of an unknown date. These are therefore all heritage graves. They are of a local significance and are therefore given a rating of Grade IIIB. It may however be mitigated.

The state of the graves that were identified is a large concern. The mine will have to take action to upgrade and restore the site except if it decided that it will be relocated.

The basic recommendation are as follows:

• From the available plans it seems that there will not be a direct impact on the site. Therefore option 1 is recommended. The graves should be fenced in and a management plan for the sustainable preservation thereof be written by a heritage expert.

• The graves also should be repaired as it in a bad state.

• It is possible that there is a direct impact on the site. If so, the mine needs to indicate this on their plans. Should this be the case option 2 will be recommended. This is the exhumation and relocation thereof.

• In such a process an archaeologist and undertaker is involved for heritage graves. Graves younger than 60 years only needs to be handled by an undertaker.

• A social consultation process will also be needed and the necessary permits needs to be obtained from SAHRA and the health authorities. This can all be handled by the undertakers and archaeologists.

• It should be remembered that due to the natural factors indicated in the report, it is possible that all cultural sites may not have been identified. Also the subterranean presence of archaeological and/or historical sites, features or artifacts are always a distinct possibility. Care should therefore be taken when development work commences that, if any more artifacts are uncovered, a qualified archaeologist be called in to investigate.

Report by

Dr. A.C. van Vollenhoven (L. Akad. S.A.)