Sand Mining Guidelines

These guidelines assist in our understanding of the impacts of sand mining operations on rivers, streams and wetlands and in making more informed decisions regarding issuing of licences and authorisations.

Preliminary Guidance document for Authorisation and Licensing of Sand Mining / Gravel Extraction, in terms of Impacts on Instream and Riparian Habitats

"Mining is of great importance to the South African economy. It should however be recognised that the processes of prospecting, extracting, concentrating, refining and transporting minerals have great potential for disrupting the natural environment (Rabie et al., 1994). The environmental effects caused by the mining of sand from a river, is no exception, often causing adverse impacts to biota and their habitats.

The Department considers fresh water aquatic ecosystems to be "the base from which the [water] resource is derived" (DWAF, 1994). Because we depend on many services provided by healthy aquatic ecosystems, these ecosystems, as the resource base, must be effectively protected and managed to ensure that our water resources remain fit for the different water uses on a sustained basis (DWAF, 1996). The establishment of the Ecological Reserve is an important step in this direction since, under previous legislation, there was only limited provision to reserve a quantity of water for environmental protection purposes (DWAF, 1997).

The objective of this document are to obtain an increased understanding of the potential impacts of sand mining and gravel extraction operations on the instream and riparian habitats of streams, rivers and lotic wetlands; and to provide guidelines for evaluation of potential impact. The recommendations made in this document are intended as guidance for decision- makers who are specifically involved in the review of sand mining and gravel extraction projects to make more informed decisions when issuing a water use authorisation under the Water Act provisions; and ensure that these operations are conducted in a manner that eliminates and minimises to the greatest extent possible, any adverse impacts on both the instream and riparian components of aquatic ecosystems, including habitat and biota..."

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Additional Information:

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Sand Mining