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EIA Process for the Swartberg Mine Expansion

in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa

Black Mountain Mining (Pty) Ltd (herein referred to as BMM), part of the global Vedanta Resources Plc., intends to expand the Swartberg mine at the existing Black Mountain Mine, which is located 10 km west of the town of Aggeneys, Northern Cape Province.

However, the footprint of the existing Black Mountain Mine will not be expanded. The current Swartberg mine is authorised through a previous Authorisation from the Department of Mineral Resources (NCS 30/5/1/2/3/2/1/517 EM). An approval for the development of a decline and the establishment of an open pit with associated workshops and infrastructure is included in this approval. The expansion of the Swartberg mine includes the expansion of the decline and the development of three more open pits (the Project).

BMM is a producer of Copper, Lead and Zinc concentrates in the Northern Cape. Currently, BMM is producing these concentrates from the Deeps mine, and to a lesser extent from the Swartberg mine. Extensive exploration in the vicinity of Swartberg to determine the extent of the orebody, has opened up the possibility of expanding the existing underground mine and establishing new open pits at Swartberg to levels on par with, or exceeding, the current Deeps mine. A pre-feasibility study completed in April 2017 concluded that the mining of the identified orebody at Swartberg is financially viable.

BMM currently produces ore from two underground mines, the Deeps mine and the Swartberg mine (both located on the Black Mountain Mine). The bulk of the current ore production, approximately 1.3 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa), is produced from Deeps mine, and 400 kilo tonnes per annum (ktpa) from the Swartberg operations. The Black Mountain Mine also includes an existing ore processing plant, mine offices, maintenance facilities and other associated services and infrastructure necessary to sustain the existing underground operations. The Deeps Life of Mine (LOM) is scheduled to extend until March 2021. To secure the future of underground mining at BMM, it is proposed to ramp-up ore production from Swartberg mine to a minimum of 1.7 Mtpa before Deeps mine is mined out. The expansion will advance the Swartberg life of mine within the existing Mining Right Area (MR 517) by at least 19 years.

The expansion of Swartberg mine will consist of the expansion of the current underground mine and three new open pit mines, and a total of 150,000,000 tons of ore will be mined from the Swartberg over the 19 year life of mine. Of this expected tonnage, approximately 18,000,000 tons of lead and copper concentrate will be extracted. Lead and copper concentrate will be transported via existing rail and/or road networks and exported via the Port of Saldahna.

BMM has a long term view to mine additional resources to ensure mining at Black Mountain Mine continues.

Purpose of this Project
Environmental Resources Management Southern Africa Pty Ltd (ERM) has been appointed by BMM to conduct the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), Act No. 107 of 1998, as amended (hereafter referred to as NEMA).

A typical EIA is usually undertaken in three phases namely Scoping Phase, Specialist Study Phase and Impact Assessment. This Draft Scoping Report documents the findings of the Scoping Phase and will be disclosed for public comment for a period of 30 days.

The Scoping Report identifies the potentially significant environmental and social issues relating to the establishment/construction, operation and decommissioning of the proposed development that should be addressed in the EIA. This was done through desktop review of available project and baseline information, initial engagement with key stakeholders (and other public consultation initiatives) as well as a site reconnaissance.

The Project requires Environmental Authorisation (EA) from the National Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) under NEMA, as amended, through an EIA process.

The Proponent
BMM engages in mining operations in South Africa and produces primarily zinc concentrates; as well as lead, copper, and silver concentrates. BMM operates the Gamsberg, Swartberg and Deeps mines and currently employ 1 667 individuals in total through direct employment and business partners.

Draft Scoping Report
The Draft Scoping Report has been made available for a 30 day comment period from 8 November 2018 to 10 December 2018.  Down load the Draft Scoping Report here:

EIA Draft Scoping Report (5.3Mb PDF)

Contact details

Brendon Solik
Email: BMM.Swartbergmine@erm.com 
Tel: 021 681 5400 
Post: Postnet Suite 90, Private Bag X12, Tokai, 7966

Invitation to Register and Comment

Stakeholders are invited to participate in the EIA process by identifying issues of concern and providing suggestions to enhance benefits.  All comments or concerns regarding the Scoping Phase of the project are to be submitted to the contact details below on or before 10 December 2018. To register as an Interested and Affected Party (I&AP), submit comments, and to obtain more information, please contact ERM.