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Elandsfontein
Opinion

ENVIRONMENT

24 August 2016
Game fence_IMG_7063

ENVIRONMENT

Storing plant species for rehabilitation

Kropz is committed to restoring the land we are working on as part of the mining activity. The mine will exist within a future protected area known as the Elandsfontein Nature Reserve. After mine closure there will be little evidence that the area was once mined. The only infrastructure that will remain will be the tarred access road and offices, which will be converted for conservation tourism purposes.

Kropz-nursery

Plants are kept in a nursery for replanting later.

Deon van Eeden of Vula Environmental Services has been working with us since the end of 2013. He has many years of experience in the rehabilitation of mined areas, including the old phosphate mine, at what is now known as the West Coast Fossil Park. Deon is extremely positive about the way in which rehabilitation will be done at Elandsfontein. “I have seen many dead mines and this one will not be one of them,” he said. He pointed out that it is much more difficult to rehabilitate an area after all mining activity has been completed if the necessary steps have not been taken to prepare for effective rehabilitation during the mining phase.

“The difference between Elandsfontein and most other mines is that the mine planning
is being done with the desired end result in mind, following best practices and advanced technology to minimise wastage and resources”.

Deon is busy collecting cuttings and seeds of functional vegetation, including Species of Conservation Concern found in the area, which will be kept in a nursery until they are needed to replant. The plant material is currently kept at a nursery off site. An additional nursery, closer to site, will be established in the future as the demand for the rehabilitation increases once the mining is in a steady state of operations.

Soil stockpiling and hydroseeding

The strip mining method, which will be used at Elandsfontein, allows us to start the rehabilitation of the area in phases following the mining activities. The first rehabilitation of construction sites is scheduled to start during the first year of operation.

The topsoil, which was removed for the construction of the mine processing plant, has already been stockpiled and successfully hydroseeded. This means that it has been sprayed with a mixture of seeds and organic soil binders to prevent erosion and help preserve the soil, plants and microorganisms in it. This topsoil will be used for the rehabilitation of the land where the processing plant is being constructed after mining has been completed.

hydroseeding

Game management

As part of the first phase of construction 6.8km of game fencing and a further 2.1km of security fencing has been put up. This fencing allows us to create zones for game management. Each of these zones are separated by cattle grids, which have been constructed especially for the mine as part of the access road contract. Our cattle grids have a unique design.

Large mammals, such as eland, kudu and zebra, will be relocated from the 500ha, fenced off mining area before any activity starts and allowed to roam free on the remaining 4,500ha. A search and rescue will be conducted for the smaller mammals and reptiles.

Elandsfontein has an active game management plan in collaboration with the University of Pretoria and game counts are done every six months. As part of the first phase of construction 6.8km of game fencing and a further 2.1km of security fencing has been erected.

During one of the contract review meetings a monitoring agent for the Cape West Coast Biosphere pointed out that tortoises, small mammals and snakes often get caught in conventional cattle grids and asked if it would be possible to engineer an escape route for these animals. The design team took this to heart and the result is the unique design which can be seen in the photograph below. This design has already caught the interest of some representatives of the local national park.

Cattle grid_SML

The unique design of the cattle grids on Greenheart Drive provides an escape route for small mammals and reptiles (including tortoises).