A report on a cultural heritage impact assessment for the proposed Wits Gold DBM Project close to Virginia, Free State Province


Archaetnos cc was requested by GCS to conduct a cultural heritage impact assessment (HIA) for the proposed Wits Gold DBM Project. This is to the south of the town of Virginia in the Free State Province.

A survey of the available literature was undertaken in order to obtain background information regarding the area. This was followed by the field survey which was conducted according to generally accepted HIA practices, aimed at locating all possible objects, sites and features of cultural significance in the footprint area of the proposed development.

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 a Global Positioning System (GPS). The information was added to photographs and the description in order to facilitate the identification of each locality.

During the survey two site of cultural heritage significance were located close to the area to be developed. The one is a grave yard and the other some historical railway station buildings. No other cultural resources were identified.

The graveyard will be directly impacted on by the development and therefore needs to be mitigated. If possible, it should be incorporated it into the development plan for the area. As there would then still be a secondary impact the site will then have to be fenced in, a management plan drafted and implemented and the site preserved. However, access to any descendants should be allowed. This may create logistical problems for the developer and therefore this option should be considered very carefully.

Another option is that the graves be exhumed and the bodies reburied. This process is a lengthy process including social consultation in order to find families of the deceased and to obtain their permission. In the case of graves older than 60 years and those with an unknown date of death an archaeologist as well as an undertaker will have to be part of the team involved. A permit from SAHRA will also need to be obtained. For graves with a date of death of younger than 60 years, only an undertaker is involved.

The railway site falls just outside the footprint area. This site as well as possible other sites (such as graves) should be managed in accordance with this report.

The proposed development may continue only after proper implementation of the mitigation measures recommended.

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 mining commences that if any of these are discovered, a qualified archaeologist be called in to investigate.

Report by

Dr. A.C. van Vollenhoven (L.AKAD.SA.)