The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations of 2014 (amended in 2017) as promulgated in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act 107 of 1998) (NEMA) requires compliance auditing of Environmental Authorisations (EA), Record of Decision’s (RoD), Environmental Management Programmes (EMPr’s) and Closure Plans (CP), with the results to be submitted to the Competent Authority (CA) by no later than 7 December 2019. The regulation also requires the adequacy of all management measures, including closure measures and commitments, in the approved EMPR to be audited. Further should any of the specified commitments or measures be found to be insufficient; an EMPR amendment process is to be initiated, inclusive of the competent authority inputs and associated public participation.
Further, as promulgated under the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998) (NEMA Regulation R1147 (GNR 1147) mining right holders are also required to review and submit costed annual and final closure plans supported by closure risk assessments during the period of 2020. These closure plans inherently require that the closure objectives of the annual and final rehabilitation plans be identified and documented, as well as identification of closure risks and that residual management measures be developed and costed. The closure plans require that sustainable end land use scenarios be described and that the plan be linked to a representative schedule and costing structure.
With consideration to the specified two (2) requirements as well as the respective timeframes for submission, the compliance challenge remains on how to adequately align and/or integrate the findings of a Regulation 34 audit to the GNR 1147 based annual and final closure plans. Technically, if the closure measures and commitments audited in the approved EMPR is concluded to be adequate by the Regulation 34 audit, the findings should be referenced and repeated within the GNR 1147 assessment. Alternatively, if the closure measures are reported to be inadequate and/or if the mining house requires changes due to alterations within the Mine works plans (life of mine schedules), such changes should be incorporated into the EMPR and be merged into the GNR 1147 Closure plans due for submission in 2020. It is recommended that mining right holders remain sensitive to the fact that findings and recommendations from the Regulation 34 audit reports not be contradictory to commitments and actions plans held in any of the GNR 1147 closure plans.
It is therefore evident that holders of approved EMPr’s which and whom is also subjected to the reporting requirements of GNR 1147 in 2020, should attempt to integrate these two process’, Regulation 34 audits and GNR 1147 closure plans, as far as practically possible. It might be valuable to ringfence the closure commitments held in the Regulation 34 audited EMPR and to audit these in view of the closure strategy and objectives evidently included in the GNR 1147 closure reports.
The ENVASS group provides specialist auditing services on Regulation 34 as well as specialist support toward the development of GNR 1147 closure plans, and can be contacted for assistance in regard with the above requirements. Contact us for more information or a quote:
T: 012 460-9768