The performance of environmental impact assessment in the explosives manufacturing industry in South Africa

17 August 2015

Explosives manufacture in South Africa is a major component of the chemical and mining industry, and as an important producer of hazardous chemicals it is also a potential contributor to significant environmental impacts. Environmental authorisation of explosives manufacturing activities is based primarily upon the quality of information made available in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), but the quality of EIR for explosives manufacturing projects has never been investigated. A modified version of the Lee and Colley review package was used to determine the EIR quality of a sample of four explosives projects. The findings reveal that the EIRs were of a generally satisfactory quality, but with some areas of weakness that are readily linked to potentially significant environmental impacts, pointing to limitations in the EIA process regarding the production of explosives. Recommendations include improved training of EIA practitioners, the use of quality review checklists and external specialist review, development of guidelines and the use of risk assessment as additional tools to the EIA regulations.