No EIA for small scale mining


By ‘Majirata Latela

The National Environment Secretariat (NES) is worried over the ministry of mining’s delay to develop an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for all the places which the ministry of mining has identified for small holder mining projects.

This publication has it on good authority that the NES has not yet received any EIA reports from the mining ministry. NES is worried that the EIA reports will come very late to its offices thereby forcing them to work under pressure and end up missing critical points in the reports.

One of the sources who wished to remain anonymous told the publication that the delay in bringing the report sometimes comes with political interference and pressure. The source said politicians sometimes influence NES officers to work under pressure for their own personal gains.  


An EIA is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.

Last month the publication reported that more than 600 people are to be employed at a kimberlite mine at Koalabata on the outskirts of Maseru after at least 110 people were awarded small scale mining licences by the ministry of mining.

Addressing a public gathering at Koalabata in Maseru last month, mining ministry’s commissioner of mines, Pheello Tjatja told the gathering that EIA reports are yet to be done. He vowed that the ministry is going to involve NES in making sure that the EIA reports are well informed.

The ministry of mining has this week announced that people who would like to acquire licenses can start applying at the office of the chief of Koalabata. The announcement also shows that applicants should bring a certified copy of their national identification cards and a letter showing proof of residence.

In October last year Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations 2021 was read in the National Assembly by the tourism, environment and culture minister, Ntlhoi Motsamai, who suggested the regulations were meant to ensure decision-making on projects is well-informed.

The reading of the regulations was part of enforcing the legislation Environment Act 2008. The regulations were read on September 15.

After such tabling, the committee indicated members were aware of the objectives of the regulations.

“We are aware that the regulations are intended to ensure that development activities consider the inter-independence between the biophysical environment and the social environment in their formulation and also implementation and decommissioning stages.  

“Also we are aware that the Regulations cover the following areas; fostering sustainable development ideals in socio-economic development policies, programmes and the potential negative and positive impacts of the project on the biophysical and social environments. They ensure that they are assessed well ahead of approval and that necessary mitigation measures are taken.

 “it is a development of collective decision-making in order to avoid conflict of mandates among line ministries and private sector in implementation of national development programmes.  They address policy conflicts on both the biophysical and social environments and human health,

“They instil appropriate ethics among EIA consultants so that investment in Lesotho flourishes. They allow for preparation and approval of the project brief and application by environmental assessments practitioners to conduct environmental assessments. Participation of affected and interested parties including both private and public sectors also features,” natural resources portfolio committee chairperson, Kimetso Mathaba, said.

He added that the regulations further covered the decisions of the director and management of the EIA process and strategic environmental impact assessment of policies, programmes and plans.

According to the Environmental Act of 2008, the courts may order that any licence permit or other authorisation given under the Act and to which the offence relates be cancelled. The Act also stipulates that if the permit is not cancelled, the court may also issue an environmental restoration order against the accused.

The Act shows that every person living in Lesotho has a right to scenic, clean and healthy environment and has a duty to protect and also inform the NES of all activities that are prone to affect the environment.

Moreover, every person may, where the right referred to is threatened as a result of an activity or omission which is causing or likely to cause harm to human health or environment, bring action against the person whose activity or omission is causing or is likely to cause harm to human health or the environment.  

NES, through senior environment officer, ‘Mammeli Makhate, has observed that all projects that are subject to clearance are listed in the Environmental Act First Schedule. Therefore, it is mandatory for them to get an EIA clearance certificate before commencement of any operations.

“The implications of someone not doing a clearance certificate amount to the owner of the project being sued. Again if we receive a tip off that someone has commenced a project without being cleared, we may start investigations to get reasons why an EIA was not done or why a clearance certificate was not issued.

“In a case where there are compelling and convincing reasons why an EIA was not done, we may suspend or stop the project works without cancelling the license, and allow the person to follow on right path to obtain a clearance certificate before resuming.

“Yes, there have been cases where people start a development project without the EIA and we have made them aware that it is compulsory to obtain a certificate,” Makhate said.

She said the process of obtaining a clearance certificate takes less than two months depending on the kind of report the company or consultant will have provided to the secretariat.