Addressing critical water and waste issues in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) : the case of coal mining in South Africa
Internationally, the assessment of mining related impacts has been a particular focus of environmental impact assessment (EIA) research and practice, with a wealth of literature on the subject. In light of the significant potential impacts of mining, specifically coal mining, it is vital for the environmental assessment report (EIR), which forms the legal basis for decision making and authorisation, to accurately communicate relevant impacts. This study investigated the extent to which critical water and waste issues are addressed in coal mining related EIAs in South Africa. Fifteen EIRs were evaluated using a review package adapted from the original Lee and Colley Review Package through placing the focus on water and waste. The results showed that 73% of the EIRs received a well-performed quality grade, however the analysis further revealed various area of weaknesses i.e. areas in the EIR that didn’t receive sufficient attention. This study elaborates on the weaknesses and provides recommendations for improvement.