Report on the heritage impact assessment for the proposed development at the Glisa Coal Mine near Belfast in Mpumalanga Province


Archaetnos cc was requested by GCS to conduct a heritage impact assessment (HIA) for the proposed expansion of mining activities at the Glisa Mine close to Belfast in the Mpumalanga Province.

The Terms of Reference for the survey were to identify, document and assess all objects, sites, occurrences and structures of cultural heritage importance located on the property. Furthermore suitable mitigation measures relating to the identified cultural heritage resources had to be proposed.

A survey of the available literature was undertaken in order to obtain background information regarding the area. This was followed by a field survey conducted according to generally accepted HIA practices endorsed by SAHRA and ASAPA. The survey was done in an area indicated by officials from the mine.

It has to be mentioned that it is almost impossible to locate all the cultural resources in a given area, as it will be very time consuming. Although care was taken to give a comprehensive background on the history of the area, it has to be stated that it is impossible to give a complete indication on human activities of the past as sources are not always readily available. The survey was done in an area indicated by officials from the mine and the survey was therefore limited accordingly. A large area was covered by an impenetrable blue gum bush. Therefore this area may not have been covered sufficiently.

Legislation relavant to heritage was also discussed. The most important of these are the National Heritage Resources Act (25 of 1999).

During the survey two sites of heritage significance was located. These are discussed and recommendations relating to the mitigation thereof are made. In short it boils down to the following:
• The proposed development may continue in lieu of the recommendations made in this report.
• Site number 1 is a grave yard and has a high cultural significance. As the mining activities are extremely close to the graves and it seems to have already impacted negatively on the stones. Therefore the only option at first seems to be to exhume the graves and have the bodies reburied. For this a process of social consultation is needed. This process is a lengthy process and one should try to obtain the permission of families.
• Urgent discussion with the community was however held and the matter was resolved. As the mine are also moving away from the graves the option of preserving it in situ and compiling a management plan now is viable. Therefore this option is supported.
• Site number 2 is a farm yard and is of a low cultural significance. It may be demolished. As it probably is younger than 60 years no heritage permit is needed.
• 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 destruction commences that if any of these are discovered, a qualified archaeologist be called in to investigate. This is especially true of the large eucalyptus bush in the west. Graves have been found inside of such forestry areas in the past and therefore special care should be given to this.

Report by

Dr. A.C. van Vollenhoven (L.AKAD.SA.) & Anton J. Pelser