Complexities with extractive industries regulation on the African continent: what has ‘best practice’ legislation delivered in South Africa?

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 12
  • Abstract:

    The legal framework for mine closure and rehabilitation of new and former mine sites in South Africa, including legacy abandoned sites, is comprehensive. This paper discusses legislative provisions for mine site rehabilitation and closure in South Africa with reference to established international expectations. Overall, while the South African legislative framework for mine closure and rehabilitation generally conforms with international expectations for best practice, the system is extremely complex and unwieldy. Many individual laws, regulations, and guidelines and their corresponding ministries applicable to mine closure planning and management in South Africa has created a complicated inter-connected raft of provisions and expectations. It is an open question whether the most recent amendments (December 2014), have untangled or rather added to the complexities. This historical complexity along with identified governance capacity constraints (financial, technical and experience based) likely explains why implementation of the legislative framework has fallen short of mine closure expectations and mandates. As South Africa is a jurisdiction on the African continent with much experience in mining, there are many lessons that are applicable to emerging countries in the region who wish to attract the benefits of the extractives industries and minimize their potential negative consequences