An investigation into the incorporation of sustainability principles in the Environmental Management Programme and Social and Labour Plan for a gold mine, South Africa
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Sustainable development in gold mining is crucial to ensure that resources are extracted in a responsible manner to the benefit of the environment, society, the economy and all other integral factors that affect sustainability in this industry. Legislation such as the Mineral Petroleum Resources Development Act, the National Environmental Management Act and others are set in order to drive management of mining to deliver sustainability through the Environmental Management Programme and the Social and Labour Plans in South Africa. It is imperative that these management documents include all principles of sustainability in order to move towards sustainability. A well developed and supported sustainability framework plays a crucial role in avoidance of possible significant negative environmental and social impacts which might affect sustainability achievement. This research is aimed at assessing the incorporation of sustainability principles into the Environmental Management Programme and the Social and Labour Plan of a specific gold mine in Gauteng Province, South Africa. This will be achieved through the development of sustainability assessment criteria specific to a gold mine in South Africa, an assessment of their incorporation into working documents and through the provision of recommendations to improve sustainability in the gold mining sector. Through the review of various documents, this research has established a suite of Gold Mine Sustainability Assessment Criteria. These criteria, established as part of this research project, were then used to assess the working documents of this specific gold mine. The assessment and analysis of the documents concluded that, although the documents do contain the relevant sub-criteria information as per the new criteria, some sub-criteria were lacking or insufficiently covered. Based on the analysis and results, it is therefore recommended firstly that the structure of the working documents must include the new criteria as identified in the study. Secondly, it is recommended that further research be conducted to ensure that all gold mine sustainability assessment criteria are addressed in the working documents and are assessed regularly to achieve sustainability.