Environmental governance, fragmentation and sustainability in the mining industry
As a developing country, South Africa is in dire need of socio-economic development and upliftment, especially in the light of past inequalities. Mining generates massive amounts of revenue and creates employment for the masses and could therefore contribute successfully towards socio-economic development, especially in a country which is richly endowed with mineral resources. Mining seems unsustainable due to the fact that it leads to the destruction of the natural environment and the depletion of non-renewable resources. Mining companies must nonetheless strive to achieve sustainability. The Constitution stipulates that the State should establish an environmental governance framework to, amongst others, protect the environment and prevent pollution while ensuring justifiable social and economic development. While the Constitution emphasises the importance of the integration, the question remains as to how the notion of sustainable development should be interpreted in a country suffering from severe poverty and a need for social and economic development. The aim of this study is to determine how the sustainability concept within mining and environmental legislation could be interpreted and given effect in order to ensure better environmental governance within the mining sector. This study indicates that the current environmental governance framework regulating the mining industry is fragmented and lacks the necessary criteria to ensure sustainability. For the purposes of this study, a sustainability model was developed for the mining industry along the lines of the different layers of an "onion" to illustrate the interdependence of the different layers of sustainability. To ensure better sustainability within the environmental governance framework, currently regulating the mining industry, sustainability criteria should be developed, clearly indicating how the different layers of sustainable development should be weighed, balanced and integrated by decision-makers.
- Law