Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has gazetted additional amendments to the Financial Provisioning Regulations for the rehabilitation and remediation of environmental damage caused by exploration and/or mining activity.
The regulations stipulate the manner in which mining rightholders and mining permit holders must provide for and then conduct rehabilitation of the environmental impacts incurred by their activities.
The amended regulations have been published in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (Nema), which brought about the streamlined ‘One Environmental System’, which effectively transferred the rehabilitation requirements from the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act to Nema through the Financial Provisioning Regulations, which were first published in November 2015.
Proposed amendments to the 2015 Financial Provisioning Regulations were first gazetted in November 2017 for public comment. The latest proposed amendments have been based on the comments received to the 2017 draft.
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) pointed out on Tuesday that some of the proposed changes being considered were the introduction of a specific obligation to rehabilitate and remediate environmental damage; the identification of circumstances under which the Mineral Resources Minister can access the financial provision of a holder; and clarification that the financial provisioning does not include funding for an incident.
Further, there is now a requirement that the funds set aside for residual and latent impacts be ceded to the Mineral Resources Minister upon the issuing of a closure certificate.
The regulations also strengthen the provisions to ensure that the holder discloses information.
Webber Wentzle partner Garyn Rapson noted in a statement that the previous restrictions on trust fund constrictions had been removed. He also noted companies now had the leeway to structure the provisioning to suit their needs.
The DEA added that offences set out in the regulations had been broadened and the content relating to the calculation of financial provisioning has been amended to provide clarity, with the methodologies for calculation being simplified and the timeframes amended.
The concept of a "sustainable end state" has also been introduced to enable mines to “practically” reach a point where a closure certificate can be issued.
“These proposed amendments have been effected to provide more clarity to the sector, to confirm that funds set aside for financial provisioning are for use by the [Mineral Resources Minister] should a holder not fulfil its rehabilitation commitments and to facilitate the actual closure of mining operations,” the DEA said.
Interested and affected parties until July 1 to submit written representations to the DEA regarding the proposed new amendments.