A report on a cultural heritage impact assessment for the proposed upgrading and construction of infrastructure at the Baobab Shaft of Lonmin Platinum near Lebowakhomo,LImpopo Province


Archaetnos cc was requested by SRK Consulting to conduct a cultural heritage impact assessment for the proposed upgrading and construction of infrastructure at the Baobab shaft of Lonmin Platinum near Lebowakhomo, Limpopo Province. The development constitutes work on the farm Kaffirkraal 167 KS.

The current development includes the upgrading of the existing concentrator including a site for stockpiling of ore, construction of a new concentrator including a site for stockpiling of ore, upgrading of the existing tailings dam and new tailings dam and construction of a road and conveyor for ore transport. The client indicated the areas where the proposed development is to take place, and the survey was confined to this area.

A survey of literature was undertaken in order to obtain background information regarding the area. This included looking at previous HIA reports on the wider geographical area. This was followed by the physical 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 area of 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 the 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 one site of cultural heritage significance was located in the area to be developed and two nearby. All three sites are grave yards. No other cultural resources were identified. It is however known that some Stone and Iron Age occurrences were identified before as well as remains from the recent past.

The three grave yards date to the historical age. Consultation with members of the community indicated that these are the only graves in the surveyed area. However it is believed that this may not be true.

Since it is not known whether some of the communities will be removed and what the possible impact of the mining activities would be on them, it is difficult to propose mitigation measures. However, all possible scenarios were taken into consideration. Should there be a need for the people to me moved a process of social consultation will be needed. This will undoubtedly also have an impact on the grave sites.

All three sites should be kept in situ if possible and fenced of properly. The community needs to have access thereto. If this is not possible a motivation in this regard needs to be supplied to the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA). On their approval a process of exhumation and relocation may be engaged into. During this process more graves may be identified.

This is a lengthy and expensive exercise for which a registered undertaker will have to be appointed. The undertakers can also take care of the social consultation. For graves older than 60 years and those of an unknown date, an archaeologist should be present.

In lieu of the above mentioned, the proposed development may continue. It should be noted that the subterranean presence of archaeological and/or historical sites, features or artifacts are always a distinct possibility. Care should therefore be taken when development work commences that if any of these are accidentally discovered, a qualified archaeologist be called in to investigate.

Report by

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