In a proactive move to promote sustainable mining, surface mining industry association, ASPASA, has released a much-needed Environmental Legal Register for use by its members to more easily comply with legal requirements.
ASPASA director, Nico Pienaar sees it as an important service to ASPASA members. “The document will be of great value to members as it also has a financial value,” he says.
Unfortunately for non-ASPASA members, they will have to join ASPASA to gain access to the document as it is copyrighted.
The introduction sketches ASPASA’s commitment to abide by environmental legislation as well as widely accepted ISO 14001 standards for environmental management systems.
Environmental law in South Africa is a minefield as there are more than 108 different pieces of legislation that members must consult for environmental management guidance.
The relevant legislation can be scattered in laws enacted by all three spheres of government: national, provincial and local. With the Environmental Legal Register, all the information that business needs are at their fingertips in a single document.
It has enough specialist input for members to identify the law applicable to the situation they may find themselves in and what the exact legal requirement is for that situation. This is a requirement, as the legislation is often phrased in a broad manner to be of use in a whole range of possible scenarios.
Secondly, the register has been designed to meet the minimum requirements for such a document as set out by ISO 14001:2015. Members can trust the document to lead them towards sound prioritisation and compliance actions.
However, the register is only applicable to open-cast mines. It does not include legislation on related industries such as cement plants or to satellite industries that might be operating on a member’s authorised mining area.
“Other industries will first have to join ASPASA so as to allow for further work to be done covering their needs,” Nico explains.
In the register, steps are given on how to use the document in the Introduction. What makes the document indispensable is that it contains hyperlinks to a virtual library with the full texts of updated legislation as supplied by the Centre of Environmental Rights (CER).
Even more indispensable is the document’s practical use. It is drawn-up in MS Word with columns provided for members’ own use and to be populated by their specific data. At a glance a member business can see what the applicable legal requirement is, ASPASA’s suggested compliance action and the documents needed to demonstrate compliance with the identified requirements.
Nico hopes the document will assist members in the setting of appropriate objectives, targets and management programmes as well as informing members of their internal monitoring criteria and training programmes.
The register deals with mining authorisation, air quality, waste management, hazardous substances management, water management, land management (including threats to biodiversity), construction, expansion and decommissioning of quarries, rehabilitation issues and other miscellaneous items which may be very important such as information on the “personal liability for environmental offences committed in the workplace”, “whistleblowing by an employee” and “recourse in the event of unjust action from government, including failure to make a decision”.