Environmental Impact Assessments and public participation: The case of environmental justice and mining development

South African democracy witnessed considerable effort to redefine Environmental Impact Assessment regulations to improve participation of citizen’s towards sustainable development of activities. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of participatory processes has generally been mixed and in many cases fallen below expectations, with a lack of empirical evidence especially in South Africa to understand the underlying elements that may contribute to poor public participation in Environmental Impact Assessments. This paper attempts to investigate the participatory inefficiencies of Environmental Impact Assessments for mining development specifically in Dullstroom, Mpumalanga and presents viewpoints from key stakeholders. Results indicate that Environmental Impact Assessments, especially for mining development, are conducted as tokenistic tools to approve developments rather than to genuinely engage with the concerns of interested and affected groups. There is a need for environmental practitioners to be impartial during assessments, including for the independence of government as regulator and enforcer of environmental assessment processes rather than spearheading mining development for economic development. The paper makes recommendations to improve participation of citizen’s during environmental impact assessment processes

Keywords: Environmental Impact Assessments, mining, participating, environmental justice; civil society

Leonard, L. (2017) Environmental Impact Assessments and public participation: The case of environmental justice and mining development, Environmental Assessment Policy and Management  DOI

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