State of Conservation (SOC)
Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape (2011)
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds
International Assistance granted to the property
Total Amount Ap proved:0USD
2010: Joint World Heritage Centre/ ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
a) Lack of a proper buffer zone (land tenureship issues)
b) Lack of a management plan
c) Mining activities
d) Development pressure
Current conservation issues
On 1 February 2011, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report. Between 15 and 19 November 2010 a joint World Heritage Centre/ ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission visited the property, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010), to consider the status of mining permissions in an area immediately to the east of the property. The mission report is available online at the following web address: http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/35COM/.
a) Status of mining licences and work of Vele colliery
The State Party report stated that the permit granted by the Department of Mineral Resources allows Limpopo Coal to mine in an area immediately to the east of the property. This permit gives them sole and exclusive right to mine, recover and dispose of minerals in, on and under the mining area for a period of 30 years, unless the permit is cancelled.
Limpopo Coal plans to work two opencast pits and two underground mining areas. The overall total of the mining area is 3963,88 ha. Authorisation for two ancillary projects, a 9km tarred road and storage facilities, has been refused, and the Limpopo Coal Company (Pty) Ltd has appealed. The company has suspended their activities on site until the appeal is settled. During this process, the Limpopo Coal Company will be responsible for updating the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and subjecting it to public comment.
The State Party reports that mining licences are issued by Department of Mineral resources while World Heritage sites are administered by the Department of Environmental Affairs. However, infrastructure associated with mining is regulated in terms of the Environmental Impact Assessments Regulations of 2006. Furthermore, the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act empowers the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, after consultation with the Minister of Mineral Resources, to review existing mining activities and prescribe conditions under which those activities may continue.
The mission report notes that the Minister and officials of Department of Mineral resources are required by Act 28 of 2002 to consult other relevant State departments on issues relating to the latter. This includes the Ministry of the Environment responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention Act and the Ministry of Arts and Culture responsible for implementing the National Heritage resources Act (NAHRA). The mission noted that in the current case, such consultation had not been carried out.
The mission further notes that the EIA hardly focused on the cultural attributes of the inscribed property and not at all on its Outstanding Universal Value. Its emphasis was on the natural environment, except for the “local community” and “land claimants”. Furthermore, the EIA had only focused on land to be used during the first phase of mining and not the second and third phases.
The mission was made aware that the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists had lodged an appeal in March 2010 opposing the granting of the mining permit as it did not address the full impact of mining on the cultural and natural environment. There is still no outcome concerning the appeal.
Taking on board the concerns by stakeholders, the mission reported that the mining company had been instructed by the State Party to cease all operations. A ‘process of rectification as provided for by the National Environmental Management Act, Act 107 of 1998’ (as amended) is underway. This entails the mining company revising the Environmental Management Plan as well as proposing alternative mining methods to be considered by the Department of Environmental Affairs.
The mission reported that the State Party is committed to undertaking a peer review of existing specialist studies in order to obtain an independent view prior to any decision to allow mining operations to recommence. The peer review outcome will be included in the evaluation process of the rectification application.
The mission did also highlight the fact that the coal seam extends to the west of the mining area towards the property and that it had been reported to them that Universal Coal and Anglo-Coal had applied for mining rights within and around the buffer zone of the property.
The State Party reported that the nomination dossier and the 2003 ICOMOS evaluation report noted that the property is supported by a buffer zone of around 100,000 ha – although it was not mapped. The following have been identified as making up this buffer zone: Venetia-Limpopo Nature Reserve, Vhembe Nature Reserve, and Limpopo Valley Game Reserve. The buffer zone has been ‘proclaimed’ but not submitted to the World Heritage Committee for approval.The mission report noted the current delimitation does not surround the entire property as envisaged at the time of inscription. There is no buffer zone on the east in the “free zone” between the property and the current mining area or for the mining area. It was explained to the mission that negotiations will continue in order to enter into agreement with landowners to extend the buffer zone, which is required under South African legislation. The mission recommended that the delimitation of the buffer zone should be reviewed as a matter of urgency in order to ensure that it surrounds the property completely.
b) Status of the Trans-Frontier Conservation Area (TFCA)
The State Party reports that a memorandum of understanding has been signed with Botswana and Zimbabwe for the development of the TFCA and that the intention is to try and extend it to cover the areas between the mining site and the property.
The mission report noted that the TFCA, as now envisaged, does not include the area to the east of the property, including the mining area, and therefore does not protect in an effective way the property’s Outstanding Universal Value, as envisaged at the time of inscription.
c) Status of land claims
The State Party reports thatland claims for restitution of land are bound by a standing parliament decision and that land claims affecting conservation land should not result in a change of land use.The mission emphasised the need for the land claim process to be transparent and inclusive and underscored the need to build trust among all stakeholders, including the international community.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies remain extremely concerned at the potential impact of opencast and underground mining operations on the Mapungubwe cultural landscape property. Although the mining site is some 7 km from the boundary, the property appears to be downwind from the proposed mining site and in an area of high archaeological significance that is related to the property. Furthermore, in terms of what was presented to the Committee at the time of inscription, the mining area is within the buffer zone of the property and in the middle of the proposed TFCA. Thus, if an appropriate EIA, which takes into account the impact on cultural heritage and the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, had been carried out, a mining permit should not have been granted. They also note that other mining companies are apparently seeking permission to mine in other parts of the buffer zone.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that the State Party acknowledges that the mining licence appears to have been issued without appropriate consultation with relevant ministries and that work has been suspended while a ‘process of rectification’ is undertaken that will entail the mining company carrying out a further impact assessment which must include impact on the cultural attributes of the property and its setting.
They further note that the buffer zone envisaged at the time of inscription to protect the boundary within South Africa, has not been fully promulgated nor submitted to the World Heritage Committee, while the boundaries of the TFCA that at the time of inscription were shown as surrounding the property and seen as a further protective layer, have now been amended to exclude an area to the east of the property including the mining area. It is essential that the immediate setting of the property is protected by a buffer zone approved by the Committee and that the TFCA offers further protection.
They welcome the measures taken to halt the mining and undertake further assessment, but remain concerned at the position of the current EIA that states that no negative impacts on cultural heritage assets are envisaged. It is crucial that a revised EIA is undertaken on the basis of proper data on the value of the landscape area where the mining is proposed, on the landscape between the mining areas and the property and on the Outstanding Universal Value and attributes of the property itself and that the EIA acknowledges that the mining area is within what was envisaged as a buffer zone and is within what at the time of inscription was part of the proposed TFCA.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies stress the need for a reform of the legal framework on mining in order to ensure that applications for mineral prospecting and mining respect the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage property and its setting.
Link to the decision
The World Heritage Committee
1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B,
2. Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.52, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),
3. Reiterates its concern at the potential adverse impact of the approved mining site on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;
4. Recalls its position on mining and World Heritage and the policy statement of the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM);
5. Notes that the State Party has halted mining operations at the mining site 7 km from the property boundary to ensure full compliance with national legislation while a further heritage impact assessment is carried out;
6. Also notes that the State Party has acknowledged that there was no sufficient consultation of all relevant stakeholders during the process of issuing the mining license;
7. Acknowledges the State Party's commitment to supplement the Environmental Impact Assessment that was undertaken for the mining application with the Heritage Impact Assessment and further notes that the State Party has already developed the Terms of Reference for this additional work using the ICOMOS Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage properties and that the Terms of Reference had already been submitted to the World Heritage Centre and reviewed by ICOMOS;
8. Expresses its concern that the buffer zone and the proposed greater Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA), as was envisaged at the time of inscription to protect the property within South Africa, have not yet been completed as a result of the slow pace of land acquisition, thus continuing to leave the area east of the property unprotected;
9. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission, in order to assess the progress made in implementing the 2010 mission's recommendations, in particular the additional Heritage Impact Assessment and issues related to clarifying the boundaries of the property's buffer zone and the overall state of conservation of the property;
10. Welcomes the commitment of the State Party to continue halting the mining operations until the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission has taken place and assessed the results of the requested Heritage Impact Assessment;
11. Calls upon the Director-General of UNESCO, in consultation with the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, in the event of the mission concluding that the heritage impact assessment indicates that the proposed mining would not threaten irreversibly the property's Outstanding Universal Value, to consult with the State Party, in line with the provision of Decision 35 COM 7.2, paragraph 6, on any urgent mitigation measures and monitoring programmes that might be requested before mining operations were to commence;
12. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2012, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and on the implementation of the above, including any negative impact on the property's Outstanding Universal Value identified within the Heritage Impact Assessment by the mission, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012.
Link to the decision
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/8E,
2. Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex I of Document WHC-11/35.COM/8E, for the following World Heritage properties:
- Afghanistan: Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam; Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley;
- Bahrain: Qal'at al-Bahrain - Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun;
- Benin: Royal Palaces of Abomey;
- Botswana: Tsodilo;
- Cameroon: Dja Faunal Reserve;
- Central African Republic: Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park;
- China: Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas;
- Germany: Upper Middle Rhine Valley;
- India: Manas Wildlife Sanctuary;
- Kenya: Lake Turkana National Parks; Lamu Old Town;
- Malawi: Chongoni Rock-Art Area;
- Mali: Old Towns of Djenné;
- Pakistan: Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore;
- Peru: Chan Chan Archaeological Zone;
- Philippines: Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras;
- Senegal: Island of Saint-Louis;
- South Africa: iSimangaliso Wetland Park; Robben Island; Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape; Cape Floral Region Protected Areas; Vredefort Dome;
- Togo: Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba;
- Turkey: Historic Areas of Istanbul;
- Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park; Rwenzori Mountains National Park;
- United Republic of Tanzania: Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara;
- Yemen: Old Walled City of Shibam; Old City of Sana'a;
- Zimbabwe: Mana Pools National Park, Sapi and Chewore Safari Areas;
3. Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in Danger will be reviewed in priority;
4. Further decides that, considering the high number of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value to be examined, the order in which they will be reviewed will follow the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting, namely:
- World Heritage properties in the Arab States;
- World Heritage properties in Africa;
- World Heritage properties in Asia and the Pacific;
- World Heritage properties in Latin America and the Caribbean;
- World Heritage properties in Europe and North America.
Draft Decision: 35 COM 7B.44
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B,
2. Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.52, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),
3. Reiterates its deep concern at the potential adverse impact of the approved mining site on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and at the fact that other mining companies have applied for mining rights nearby;
4. Recalls the World Heritage Committee’s position on mining and World Heritage and the policy statement of the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM);
5. Notes that the State Party has halted mining operations at the mining site 7 km from the property boundary while further impact assessments are carried out;
6. Also notes that the State Party has acknowledged that the processes whereby the mining licence was issued were flawed as they failed to involve consultation with all the appropriate ministries and in particular the Ministry of the Environment;
7. Expresses its concern that the buffer zone envisaged at the time of inscription to protect the boundary within South Africa has only been partly promulgated and has not been submitted for approval by the World Heritage Committee, and that the boundaries of the proposed Trans-Frontier Conservation Area, envisaged to offer further protection of the property, has now been amended to exclude the mining sites and the area between them and the property, thus leaving the area to the east of the property and the mining site unprotected;
8. Requests that the Environmental Impact Assessment process, which should thoroughly assess the potential impact of the mine on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value, be completed in accordance with the highest international standards and also requests that the Terms of Reference for this additional work follow ICOMOS Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage properties be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for evaluation by ICOMOS;
9. Calls upon the State Party to continue halting the mining operations until the World Heritage Committee has had the opportunity to consider the new impact assessment and urges it to refrain from issuing other mining licences in the immediate setting of the property;
10. Further requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission, in order to assess the progress made in implementing the 2010 mission’s recommendations, in particular the additional Environmental Impact Assessment and issues related to clarifying the boundaries of the property’s buffer zone
11. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2012, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and on the implementation of the above, including the Environmental Impact Assessment, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012, with a view to considering, in case of resumption of mining activities, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
View inscribed site documents, nomination file, reports, decisions, ...
The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).