Archaetnos cc was requested by Cabanga Environmental to conduct a cultural heritage impact assessment (HIA) for the Chelmsford Colliery EMP Amendment. This is south of the town of Newcastle in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. This falls within the Newcastle Local Municipality of the Amajuba District Municipality. The proposed project is on the remainder of the farm Macclesfield 8418 HS and the remainder and portion 1 of the farm Herons Court 8521 HS.

Project description:

Chelmsford Colliery is an existing, operational mine with an approved Mining Right and associated Environmental Management Plan (EMP) in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (Act No. 28 of 2002) (MPRDA). The approved EMP had sections of the Farms Macclesfield and Herons Court (the Macclesfield Section) earmarked for underground mining. Upon further assessment of the resource, Future Coal now wish to exploit this resource via opencast methods. To mine Macclesfield section via opencast methods, Future Coal requires their EMP to be amended and Environmental Authorisation in terms of NEMA.


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 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 three sites of cultural heritage significance were identified.


  • Site no. 1 consists of graves and farm house ruins. The ruins have low significance 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.
  • Graves are always regarded as having a high cultural significance. It should be included in the heritage register and mitigation measures must be implemented if any development activities take place in its vicinity.
  • Two possibilities exist. The first option would be to fence the graves in or demarcate the site and have a management plan drafted for the sustainable preservation thereof. This should be compiled by a heritage expert. This option is relevant when the graves are in no danger of being damaged or destroyed by the development (direct impacts). Secondary impact due to the development activities may still exist and must be managed.
  • The second option is to exhume the mortal remains and to have it relocated. This usually is relevant when the graves will be directly affected (damaged or destroyed) by the development. In this case specific procedures should be followed which includes social consultation. Graves younger than 60 years may be exhumed only by an undertaker. For those older than 60 years, and unknown graves, an undertaker and archaeologist should be appointed. Permits must be obtained from the Burial Grounds and Graves unit of SAHRA. This procedure is quite lengthy and involves social consultation.
  • The graves at site no. 1 are on the edge of the development and therefore Option 1 is recommended. Should this however not be possible, a motivation needs to be written so that Option 2 may be implemented.
  • Site no.3 is also graves, but these are outside of the planned mining area. Thus, Option 1 is recommended. Specific care should be taken to safeguard the graves from damage caused by blasting activities. This should be included in the cultural management plan after consultation with a blasting expert.
  • Site no. 2 is a historical farm yard associated with the graves at site no. 3. It is of medium-high significance and should be included in the heritage register. It may be mitigated if needed. Such mitigation would be subject to a permit application lodged with the relevant heritage
  • It is recommended that the site remain in situ. The mine however needs to involve the blasting expert to ensure that no further damage are done to these structures. This would be possible by using different blasting techniques.
  • 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 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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