IEM provides a holistic framework for all sectors of society for the assessment and management of environmental impacts with the overall aim of promoting sustainable development. 

We offer the following IEM Services:



Screening determines whether or not a development proposal requires environmental assessment, and if so, what type and level of assessment is appropriate. Two types of screening exist:

  1. Mandatory screening –typically administered by an environmental authority or some institution with vested powers to instruct that a screening process be undertaken;
  2. Pre-application screening – typically undertaken outside of a legislated process at the discretion of the development proponent, with the aim of identifying key environmental issues early in the planning process in order to inform the planning and design and often including some form of fatal flaw analysis.

Environmental Impact Assessments

[Including Listing Confirmations, Basic Assessments and Scoping]

EIA aims to predict both the positive and negative environmental impacts of a proposed project and find ways to reduce adverse impacts, shape projects to suit the local environment and present the predictions and options to decision-makers. This tool is designed to be project specific and site-specific, and not to be focused on strategic issues. The key phases of an EIA are:

  1. Scoping: The process of determining the spatial and temporal boundaries, project alternatives and key issues to be addressed in an EIA. The primary purpose of scoping is to focus the environmental assessment on the key issues to be investigated in the EIA that will inform decision-making.
  2. Impact Assessment: Involves investigation of the issues raised during the scoping phase. Potential impacts are assessed and measures to enhance the positive impacts and minimise the negative impacts are recommended. This typically involves the use of specialist studies and requires the assessment of impact significance, with the results of the assessment presented in an Environmental Impact Report. The specialist studies and Environmental Impact Report are subjected to Review processes. The EIA process includes stakeholder engagement, which is described below.

Stakeholder Engagement

This is the process of engagement between stakeholders during the planning, assessment, implementation and/or management of proposals or activities. The level of stakeholder engagement can therefore be described by a spectrum of increasing levels of engagement in the decision-making process. The term “stakeholders” includes government authorities, the proponent and interested and affected parties (I&APs). I&APs could include environmental practitioners, academics, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community-based organisations (CBOs) and business.

Environmental Management Programmes

EMPrs specify how an activity is to be managed to minimise potential impacts on the environment and enhance benefits, throughout the life cycle of the activity. EMPrs also aim to ensure that the conditions of authorisation associated with a project are fulfilled; and can be applied to the construction, establishment, operational or decommissioning phases of an activity.

Environmental Auditing

Environmental auditing is a process whereby an organisation’s environmental performance is tested against numerous requirements, for example, clearly defined policies, legislated requirements and key performance indicators. The approach includes interviews and asking of questions; review of relevant documentation; and visual observations. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC, 1991) defines environmental auditing as “A management tool comprising a systematic, documented, periodic and objective evaluation of how well environmental organisation, management and equipment are performing with the aim of contributing to safeguarding the environment by:

  1. Facilitating management control of environmental practices; and
  2. Assessing compliance with company policies, which would include meeting regulatory requirements.”

Differing types of environmental audits exist, such as: Environmental Management Audits; Environmental Compliance Audits; Waste Audits; Environmental Due Diligence Audits; and Supplier Audits.

Strategic Environmental Assessments

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is becoming an accepted and widely used tool for determining the environmental implications of decisions made at a policy, plan or programme level. By focusing on higher-level processes, SEA compliments and provides a framework for project-level EIA. Another distinction that has been identified between EIA and SEA is that EIA is used to evaluate the impacts of development on the environment, whereas SEA aims to evaluate the opportunities and constraints that the environment places on development. There are numerous definitions of SEA, which reflect different understandings of its purpose. These definitions tend to fall into two categories:

* Definitions of SEA that represent an extension of project-based EIA to the strategic levels of policies, plans and programmes. This approach is typically termed “EIA-based” SEA.

* Definitions of SEA that focus on the role of SEA in facilitating the move to sustainability. This approach enables the proactive consideration of the objectives of sustainability and has been referred to as “sustainability-led” SEA.

Environmental Reporting

State of the Environment (SOE) reporting is used to highlight changes in the environment, the causes of those changes, and identify appropriate responses. The reports provide a link between information that is often technical and the general public. In South Africa, the framework most often used for organising the SOE information is called the DPSIR framework. This uses indicators to describe changes, and consists of the following:

  • Driving forces – human influences and activities that, when combined with environmental conditions, underpin environmental change
  • Pressures – these are exerted on resources and ecosystems as a result of human activities 
  • State – the condition of the environment resulting from driving forces and pressures
  • Impacts – the consequences or results of pressures on the current state of the environment
  • Responses – these are the societal actions taken collectively or individually to ease or prevent negative environmental impacts, correct environmental damage or conserve natural resources.

Specialist Studies

The role of the specialist in the EIA process is to:

  1. Address issues raised during scoping and;
  2. Provide sufficient information that can be used by decision-makers.

In most countries, especially in developing countries, there is no established decision-making framework or criteria. Specialists thus have a critical role to play in ensuring that decision-makers have sufficient information to make rational and informed decisions.

EIA practitioners draw on inputs from a range of traditional scientific disciplines (e.g. social sciences, earth sciences and life sciences). The main benefit of using science in this manner in EIA is that the interdisciplinary nature of the process provides an effective way of translating good theory into good practice.

We, as environmental practitioners, draw a wide network of professionals who are brought in on a project by project basis depending on the project requirements.

Mining applications

If you want to conduct mining operations you need to obtain a mining permit from the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR). A mining permit is a document issued by the DMR which allows you to conduct mining operations. No person is allowed to mine without a mining permit. Mining permits are not transferable. They are aimed at controlling prospecting and mining, having regard to considerations for health and safety, environmental management and the responsible extraction of minerals.

A mining permit is valid for the period specified on the permit, but may not exceed two years. It may however be renewed for three more periods of no more than a year each. A mining permit may only be issued if:

  • the mineral in question can be mined optimally for two years
  • the mining area does not exceed 1.5 ha.