A depth of in-house expertise in both environmental and mining disciplines allows SRK Consulting (SA) to deliver optimal value when auditing mining clients’ compliance with their Environmental Management Programme Reports (EMPRs) and Environmental Authorisations.

Such performance reviews, or audits, are prescribed by the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) and, since December 2014, by the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) EIA Regulations.

“The MPRDA requires that a consultant’s independent audit of a mine’s EMPR should also include specific recommendations to address areas of non-compliance,” according to Matthew Law, senior environmental management consultant in SRK’s Cape Town office.

“This legal requirement means that the environmental expert should ideally have a sound technical understanding of mining, so that any recommendations they make are based on a sound and practical understanding of mining practice,” said Law. This is where SRK has a distinct advantage, particularly in the Western Cape, which though fortunate to have hundreds of environmental consultants, has very few with SRK’s in-depth knowledge of mining.  “Though based in Cape Town, we regularly work on mining projects throughout Africa and further afield”. “And we have a large team of mining engineers to bounce ideas off, so that the recommendations we make assist clients.”

He said it was quite conceivable, in cases where non-compliance was identified in an audit, that the consultant could make recommendations which were practically unrealistic in the context of the mine’s operational framework.

“The advantage of SRK’s breadth of technical skill and experience is that we plan and implement complex projects as a matter of course, integrating the various project elements through close co-operation of our inter-disciplinary teams,” he said.

“As leaders in the field of environmental audits, we further enhance the value of these audits with our mining expertise – adding rigour and pragmatism to the recommendations we make on how compliance is best achieved.”

SRK’s Cape Town office – whose services include environmental impact assessments and audits for industry and mines in the Western Cape, Northern Cape and beyond – can draw readily from specialist skills throughout the SRK network in South Africa and globally. Formed in 1974 in Johannesburg, SRK Consulting now employs some 1 500 staff in over 50 offices across all six continents.

Biodiversity and ecological sensitivity in the Western Cape, and its status as a key tourist destination, heighten the public interest in any potential environmental impact, said Law.

“These factors have made it even more vital for any mining activity to comply strictly with regulations and closely monitor how their operations align with the environmental commitments made in their EMPs,” he said.