A report on a cultural heritage impact assessment for the proposed Twickenham Platinum Mine Project, close to Burgersfort, Limpopo ProvinceSummary

Archaetnos cc was requested by SRK Consulting to conduct a cultural heritage impact assessment (HIA) for the proposed Twickenham Platinum Mine Project. This is on the farms Twickenham 114 KT and Hackney 116 KT, to the north of the town of Burgersfort in the Limpopo Province. The HIA is done as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Environmental Management Programme (EMP), Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) and Water Licence Application (WULA) of the mine.

The Terms of Reference for the survey were to:

  1. Identify objects, sites, occurrences and structures of an archaeological or historical nature (cultural heritage sites) located on the property.
  2. Document the found cultural heritage sites according to best practice standards for heritage related studies.
  3. Study background information on the area to be developed.
  4. Assess the significance of the cultural resources in terms of their archaeological, historical, scientific, social, religious, aesthetic and tourism value.
  5. Describe the possible impact of the proposed development on these cultural remains, according to a standard set of conventions.
  6. Recommend suitable mitigation measures to minimize possible negative impacts on the cultural resources by the proposed development.
  7. Review applicable legislative requirements.


Aspects concerning the conservation of cultural resources are dealt with mainly in two acts. The first of these are the National Heritage Resources Act (Act 25 of 1999) which deals with the cultural heritage of the Republic of South Africa. The second is the National Environmental Management Act (Act 107 of 1998) which inter alia deals with cultural heritage as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment process.

The methodology for the study includes a survey of literature and a field survey. The latter 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.

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. Certain factors, such as accessibility, density of vegetation, etc. may however influence the coverage.

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 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 area that was surveyed is located within the Sekhukhune District. The traditional rural surroundings include many houses and informal streets spread all over the landscape. A large section of the surveyed area has been disturbed by recent human activities.

One site of cultural heritage significance was located during the survey. Some background information is given in order to place the surveyed area in a historical context and to contextualize possible finds that could be unearthed during construction activities. A few heritage reports were written about the larger Burgersfort/ Steelpoort area. One report was done at the Twickenham Mine earlier.

The survey of the indicated areas at the proposed Twickenham Mine Project was completed successfully. One LIA site was identified, but Stone Age tools was also noted in the surveyed area. Many graves are found associated with the villages.

The following is recommended:

  • As the LIA site has been almost completely demolished by ploughing activities, it is regarded as having a low cultural significance and may therefore be demolished. It should however be mitigated before destruction.
  • This is due to the possibility of skeletal remains being encountered during earthwork activities. A watching brief is therefore recommended, in order to be able handle any such remains that may be encountered.
  • During this time a collection of artefacts on site can also be made.
  • It therefore would be necessary to obtain an archaeological permit from SAHRA.
  • Although no graves were found to be in danger of being disturbed, many graves are found associated with the houses in the villages. These needs to be protected or relocated should the community be expected to move. This should be done in accordance with the legislation discussed.
  • The proposed development may continue, within the parameters set out by these recommendations.
  • It should be noted that the subterranean presence of archaeological and/orĀ· 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.

Report by

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