A report on an archaeological impact assessment for the proposed Vunene Usutu Colliery, close to Ermelo, Mpumalanga ProvinceSummary

Archaetnos cc was requested by the Vunene Mine to conduct an archaeological impact assessment (AIA) for the proposed expansion of mining activities at the Usuthu Colliery. The development is located on a portion of portion 6 of the farm Jan Hendriksfontein 263 IT and a portion of the farm Transutu 257 IT. This is close to the town of Ermelo in the Mpumalanga Province.
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.
During the survey four sites of cultural heritage significance were identified. These are discussed and mitigation measures are proposed. After implementation of these, the proposed development may continue.
It should be noted that the subterranean presence of archaeological and/or historical sites, features or artifacts is always a distinct possibility. Due to the density of vegetation it also is possible that some sites may only become known later on. Operating controls and monitoring should therefore be aimed at the possible unearthing of such features. 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.
It is also important to take cognizance that it is the client’s responsibility to do the submission of this report via the SAHRIS System on the SAHRA website. No work on site may commence before receiving the necessary comments from SAHRA.

Report by

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