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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X

J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. vol.108 n.11 Johannesburg Nov. 2008




Reflections on the quality of mining EIA reports in South Africa



L.A. Sandham; A.R. Hoffmann; F.P. Retief

Environmental Assessment Research Group, School of Environmental Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom




Environmental impact assessment (EIA) in South Africa is administered by the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) for the mining industry, and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) for all other sectors. Thus far, EIA research has focused on the process under the auspices of DEAT but none has focused on the EIA process that has been mandatory in the South African mining industry since 2004. Using the Lee and Colley (Lee et al.13) review package as a basis, a review model specifically tailored to the needs of the mining industry was applied to review the quality of a sample of 20 environmental impact reports (EIRs) approved by the DME. Results reveal that 85% of the EIRs are of a satisfactory quality. Presentational and descriptive components generally achieved higher quality grades than the analytical components such as impact magnitude and alternatives. The results show that in spite of some areas of weakness, and in spite of being conducted in terms of different legislation, EIR quality in the mining sectors appears to conform to the overall standard of quality of EIRs in other sectors in South Africa, and is also on a par with quality abroad. Hence, despite the criticism that DME is usurping the role of DEAT, it is concluded that EIRs of comparable standard are being produced, and that the quality of EIRs in the mining sector do not provide supporting evidence for this criticism. However, EIR quality is only a single aspect of EIA effectiveness, others including action and implementation of EIA proposals and mitigation measures.



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