A REPORT ON A CULTURAL HERITAGE IMPACT ASSESSMENT FOR A PROPOSED MINING RIGHT APPLICATION AT THE OVERLOOKED COLLIERY ON PORTION 2 OF THE FARM HALFGEWONNEN, BETWEEN BETHAL AND HENDRINA, MPUMALANGA PROVINCE
Overlooked Colliery is an operational mine situated over the full extent of the Portion 0 (Remaining Extent), Portion 5 and Portion 17 of the farm Halfgewonnen 190 IS and a portion of the farm Forzando 592 IS between the towns of Bethal (23km south-west) and Hendrina (21km north-east). The project falls within the Govan Mbeki Local Municipality (MP307) of the Gert Sibande District Municipality (DC30), Mpumalanga Province.
Overlooked Colliery wish to extend their current opencast and underground operations into the neighbouring Portion 2 of the farm Halfgewonnen; thus Overlooked will be amending their Mining Right and associated environmental authorisation to include Portion 2 of the farm Halfgewonnen 190 IS.
Existing infrastructure at Overlooked Colliery will be utilised as far as possible. Additional infrastructure proposed for Portion 2 will include ventilation fans, opencast pit (expansion of Block B), run of mine and product stockpiles, overburden stockpiles and water management facilities. The surface infrastructure design for Portion 2 will depend on the outcome of the various specialist studies and has not been finalized to date.
The Terms of reference was to complete a Heritage Impact Assessment for the proposed project. This was completed by means of a site survey, conducted according to generally accepted HIA practices, aimed at locating all possible objects, sites and features of cultural significance in the area of proposed development. Documentation is done by a Global Positioning System (GPS), photographs and a site description. A background study of the area is also included.
Eight sites of cultural heritage significance were identified during the study. These are discussed in the report.
The following is recommended:
- Graves are always regarded as having a high cultural significance but may be mitigated.
- Two possibilities regarding graves exists as discussed above. For sites – 1-5 and 8, option 1 is recommended as all the grave sites falls outside the opencast mining areas. This entails fencing the graves in and have a management plan drafted for the sustainable preservation thereof. This should be written by a heritage expert.
- However the mine should ensure that no indirect impact is experienced (e.g. blasting). Should any danger be posed to the graves, option 2 will have to be taken. This is to exhume and relocate the mortal remains. For this a specific procedure should be followed which includes social consultation. For graves younger than 60 years only an undertaker is needed. For those older than 60 years and unknown graves an undertaker and archaeologist is needed. Permits should be obtained from the Burial Grounds and Graves unit of SAHRA. This procedure is quite lengthy.
- Site 7 (graves) falls outside of the mine boundary and may be left in situ without the necessity to do any mitigation as it lies more than 1.3 KM from any area to be mined.
- Site 6 (farm house ruin) is regarded as having a low cultural significance and may also be mitigated if needed. 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 is recommended that the building be demolished as these fall within the open cast mining area.
- After implementation of the mitigation measures recommended, 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. 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.