Harmonisation and enforcement of SA mining environmental management laws is under discussion in parliamentary committees.
The SA National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill and regulations were discussed in a joint parliamentary portfolio committee meeting early in 2014, chaired by ANC MP Johnny de Lange.
The Portfolio Committee of Water and Environmental Affairs, and the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources, met together to harmonise regulations under the ‘streamlining’ Amendment, to speed up mining licensing and to allocate authorities.
The Bill amended provisions under three Acts; the National Environmental Management Act, the National Environmental Management Waste Act, and the National Environmental Management Amendment Act.
The National Environmental Amendment Act related to mining would enter into force 19 months after the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Act, which had entered into force in June 2013. The two Acts would therefore be fully effective on 8 December 2014.
One of the impacts of the amendments is that mining rights, permits, environmental authorisations and water use licences would follow the same timeframes, as identified in amendments currently being made to the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations.
All the Acts now provided for an internal appeal procedure and the appeal timeframes between the acts were aligned and ran parallel. Decisions made around mining which affected the environment would be dealt with according to environmental laws.
Most of the concerns raised by members focused on the fact that the Department had not acted or and implemented the Committee’s formerly proposed amendments.
Mining applications would take 300 days
On the Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill, Linda Garlipp, DEA Chief Director of Law Reform and Appeals, said the Ministers of Mineral Resources, Water, and Environmental Affairs agreed on fixed timeframes for issuing of authorisations, rights, permits or licences, which would now be synchronised.
Within 300 days of submitting an application for a mining right a decision can be issued. Should that decision be appealed, the period before decision making would be 390 days. The new regulations would make provision for the automatic closure of projects where the applicant did not meet timeframes.
Mining waste moved back to NEMA again
The removed management of residue stockpile was moved to the National Environmental Management Act. The Department of Mineral Resources did not want to deal with residue stockpile as waste.
However Ms Bikani (ANC), Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources, said a document stated that residue stockpile and deposits had been removed from NEMA to the Waste Bill.
Dr Thibedi Ramontja, Director General of Mineral Resources, explained that residue stockpile and deposits were originally in NEMA, then moved to the Waste Bill, but brought back to NEMA.
The Minister of Mineral Resources had also been given authority to appoint a Mineral Resources Inspector, with the same powers as the Environmental Management Inspectors (EMI’s) to be able to enforce the provisions of the National Environmental Management Act 1998.
However, the Minister responsible for mineral resources could designate EMI’s should the mineral resource inspectors be unable to fulfil the function.
The Chairperson said where there were problems with capacity. The two Ministers in concurrence could agree to assist each other. With the timeframes, similar interventions would also be taken up to ensure that monitoring still took place.
Ms F Wegner (DA) asked whether “sludge” should be considered part of residue. An official from the DEA said sludge could be part of anything, and would be regulated by the DMR.
New environmental norms
Meanwhile several these norms and standards, that may be relevant to some mining activities, have been published or revised.
National Environmental Management: Waste Act
• National norms and standards for storage of waste
• List of waste management activities that have, or are likely to have, a detrimental effect on the environment.
National Environmental Management Act
• National standards for the extraction, flaring or recovery of landfill gas
• Amendment to Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations Listing Notice 1
• Amendment to Environmental Impact.
Assessment Regulations Listing Notice 2; National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act
• Amendment of the National Framework for Air Quality Management
• Controlled emitters, which result in atmospheric emissions, which through ambient concentrations, bioaccumulation and deposition or in any other way present a threat to health or the environment.
• List of activities which result in atmospheric emissions which have or may have a significant detrimental effect on the environment, including health, social conditions, economic conditions, ecological conditions or cultural heritage.
Revised SANS standards
SANS 1157: 2013 Edition 1.1 Transport of dangerous goods – Inspection requirements of road vehicles for the issue of municipal dangerous goods transport permits. Consolidated edition incorporating amendment 2
SANS 10087-1: 2013 Handling, storage, distribution and maintenance of liquefied petroleum gas in domestic, commercial, and industrial installations – Part 1: Liquefied petroleum gas installations involving gas storage container of individual water capacity not exceeding 500 L and a combined water capacity not exceeding 3000 L per installation.
SANS 10405 ED2: 2013 Transport of dangerous goods by rail – Operational and design requirements and emergency preparedness. This standard is expected to change.
Dust Control Regulations
SA Dust Control Regulations under authority of the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act, relevant to non-residential areas sets an acceptable limit of 1200 mg/m2/day. The residential areas limit is 600 mg/m2/day. Dustfall monitoring, control, and reporting may be required by state Air Quality Officers.
• Sources; DEA. DMR. PMG. Caia. RC. SABS.
• SA health and safety law updates are posted separately from environmental law updates on Sheqafrica.com
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