Government has commenced the rollout of the “One Environmental System” with effect from Monday, 8th December 2014, which will initiate the streamlining of the licensing processes for mining, environmental authorisations and water use.
The system, announced by the President in his State of the Nation Address in February this year, represents Government’s commitment to improve the ease of doing business and further enhance South Africa’s global competitiveness as a mining investment jurisdiction.
Under the One Environmental System, The Minister of Mineral Resources will issue environmental authorisations and waste management licences in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998) (NEMA), and the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008), respectively, for mining and related activities. The Minister of Environmental Affairs will be the appeal authority for these authorisations.
The Ministers of Environmental Affairs, Mineral Resources as well as Water and Sanitation have agreed on fixed time-frames for the consideration and issuing of the permits, licences and authorisations in their respective legislation.
The aforestated Ministers further agreed to synchronise the process for the issuing of permits, licences and authorisations within a 300 day period. In the event that a decision to issue a license is appealed, an additional maximum period of 90 days is provided for legislatively, to
finalise the process.
Until all the requisite legislative amendments have been effected to formalise the abovementioned timeframes, the timeframes stipulated in NEMA will be applicable. The Minister of Mineral Resources is authorised to appoint Environmental Mineral Resource Inspectors (EMRI), who will have the same powers as Environmental Management Inspectors to enforce the provisions of NEMA and the regulations there-under as far as it relates to mining and related activities.
The finalisation of the development of residue stockpiles, residue deposits and financial provision for rehabilitation regulations in terms of NEMA is still pending. Until such regulations are finalised, the MPRDA regulations will remain in force in this regard.
All environmental management plans or programmes approved in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (Act No. 28 of 2002), immediately before 8 December 2014, shall be deemed to be approved in terms of the NEMA. All pending applications on the 8th December 2014, lodged in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (Act No. 28 of 2002), shall be processed and finalised in terms of the MPRDA, as provided for in terms of section 12 of the National Environmental Management Amendment Act, 2008, and section 26 of the National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Act, 2014.
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