Archaetnos cc was requested by Rushtail 31 (Pty) Ltd. to conduct a cultural heritage impact assessment (HIA) for a proposed mining right application on the farm Pniel 281. This is close to the town of Barkly West in the Barkly West magisterial district, Northern Cape Province.

The heritage study forms part of an Environmental Authorisation Process. This report is the result of the HIA study.

Project description:

The proposed activities include an alluvial diamond mining operation. This will be done by strip mining methods. Infrastructure will include a processing plant, tailings dam, conveyor belt, roads and associated infrastructure. Access material will be used for rehabilitation purposes.


The methodology for the study includes a survey of literature followed by a field assessment. 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.

Public consultation:

Public consultation is done by the Environmental Practitioner.


During the survey twenty sites of cultural heritage significance were identified.

The following is recommended:

  • Usually there are two options when dealing with graves. The first option is to leave the graves in situ. This would be possible should there be no direct impact on the graves.  However, the possibility of secondary impacts due to dust etc. remains.
  • The second option is to exhume the graves and have the bodies reburied. This usually is only allowed if there is a direct impact on the site. Graves younger than 60 years are handled by a registered undertaker. Graves older than 60 years and those of an unknown date is regarded as heritage graves. In such a case an archaeologist is also involved in the process.
  • It is recommended that for all grave sites (1, 2. 3, 4, 11 and 13) ,Option 1 be implemented. The sites should remain in situ. It should be fenced in and a management plan drafted for the sustainable preservation thereof. A buffer zone of 20 m should be implemented.
  • The association of site 14 (graves) with the gallows-tree, elevates the site at least to a field rating of Local Grade IIIA. It means that the site should be included in the heritage register and not be mitigated (high significance). It should also be maintained in situ with a protected buffer zone and a CMP must be compiled. It might even be considered to have the site declared as a Provincial (Grade II) heritage site.
  • Site 5 (the old dipping pen) is quite rare and therefore receives high cultural significance. On its own it would receive a field rating is Local Grade IIIB. However, in association with the bridge, with has been declared as a Provincial heritage site, the site should be elevated to at least the same level. It should therefore remain in situ. It may not be mitigated, and a CMP should be drafted.


  • Site 6 and 7 (stone walling associated with prospecting activities) should be included in the heritage register and may be mitigated. Mitigation is subject to a permit application lodged with the relevant heritage It may thus be destroyed after such a permit has been granted. However, if no impact is foreseen it should be left as is.


  • The stone walling believed to be livestock enclosures (site no 8-9, and 15-20) should be included in the heritage register and may be mitigated. Mitigation is subject to a permit application lodged with the relevant heritage It may thus be destroyed after such a permit has been granted. This is only applicable if impact is foreseen on the sites. If not, kit could just remain in situ.


  • For the historical house remains (site 10 and 12) the description in this phase 1 heritage report is seen as sufficient recording and it may be granted destruction at the discretion of the relevant heritage authority without a formal permit application, subjected to the granting of Environmental Authorisation.


  • It should also 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 in certain areas it also is possible that some sites may only become known later. 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.
  • In this regard the following ‘Chance find Procedure’ should be followed:
  • Upon finding any archaeological or historical material all work at the affected area must cease.

§  The area should be demarcated to prevent any further work there until an investigation has been completed.

§  An archaeologist should be contacted immediately to provide advice on the matter.

  • Should it be a minor issue, the archaeologist will decide on future action. Depending on the nature of the find, it may include a site visit.
  • SAHRA’s APM Unit may also be notified.

§  If needed, the necessary permit will be applied for with SAHRA. This will be done in conjunction with the appointed archaeologist.

§  The removal of such archaeological material will be done by the archaeologist in lieu of the approval given by SAHRA, including any conditions stipulated by the latter.

§  Work on site will only continue after the archaeologist/ SAHRA has agreed to such a matter.

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

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