TREADING LIGHTLY - JSE MAGAZINE

TREADING LIGHTLY

Implats has a goal to achieve world-class environmental performance

Mining in general inherently has a high impact on the natural environment. Implats is committed to alleviating the impact its operations have. To ensure effective management of these, and with our goal to achieve world-class environmental performance, we renewed our environmental policy this year.

Arguably our most significant environmental issue relates to managing and maintaining access to water, a vital input for our mining, processing and refining operations. During the past year we have implemented various projects to reduce our consumption of potable water, optimise industrial water use and increase water recycling.

We have also made progress during 2013 in our efforts to reduce carbon emissions through various energy efficiency initiatives and have continued with our investigations into the feasibility of a coal-to-biomass, fuel-switching project.

In terms of air quality issues, the most significant risk for Implats relates to the sulphur dioxide emissions from our smelting and refining operations at Rustenburg, Springs and Zimplats.

The exploration, extraction and processing of mineral resources inherently has an impact on the natural environment. In addition to depleting a non-renewable resource, there are environmental impacts in terms of energy and water use, waste generation, land disturbance, and atmospheric and water pollution.

Despite the environmental impacts associated with our processes, we believe that as a result of our responsible environmental management practices, the nature of our investments in social and human capital, and the role that PGMs play in the move to a greener economy, we have a net positive environmental impact on society.

During 2013 a new environmental policy was introduced by Implats and it commits the company to running our exploration, mining, processing and refining operations in an environmentally responsible manner and to ensure the well-being of our stakeholders. The policy also commits to integrating environmental management into all aspects of the business in order to achieve world-class environmental performance in a sustainable manner.

Our management of the environmental impacts of our operations and processes involves the following focus areas: promoting responsible water stewardship by minimising water use and water pollution; minimising our negative impacts on air quality; responding to climate change risks and opportunities and promoting responsible energy management; managing our waste streams and promoting responsible land management and biodiversity practices.

In addition to managing our direct environmental impacts, all operations develop or fund a flagship local community environmental project demonstrating our commitment to environmental issues. Impala Rustenburg has continued with an environmental project in the Kgaswane Mountain Reserve at an estimated value of R1.5 million.

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Water stewardship
We are highly reliant on water for our mining, processing and refining operations. Our approach to water management is guided by our water conservation strategy. The strategy focuses on water consumption and quality management.

We work closely with different stakeholders to ensure security of supply for our operations and the surrounding communities. We have been engaging in particular with the community surrounding our Marula operations, specifically concerning water quality concerns that have been raised by neighbouring farmers.

Climate change and energy management
We recognise that climate change presents Implats with significant challenges, resulting from both the physical impacts of a changing climate as well as governmental policy changes. We have a carbon management strategy in place and have set short-term objectives and implementation targets. Security of energy supply and pricing are significant material risks. Our projected expansion into deeper operations that are more energy intensive, coupled with the proposed introduction of a carbon tax, has led us to placing renewed focus on energy-efficiency projects. Efforts to reduce carbon emissions are being driven largely through energy-efficiency initiatives and a fuel-switching project.

Several energy-efficiency projects are being implemented, for example:

  • We are installing power factor correction equipment at Rustenburg.
  • Fibreglass reinforced plastic fan blades are being tested for performance.
  • Our coal-to-biomass, fuel switching project aims to utilise bamboo as an alternate fuel source to coal and qualifies for carbon credits through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

Our carbon and energy management focus for the future include updating the company’s carbon footprint and setting realistic reduction targets for each operation in line with our carbon management strategy. We will continue to work with government and academic institutions on the development of fuel-cell technologies that will utilise PGMs as alternative energy sources.

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Air quality management
The most significant air quality emission for the group relates to the sulphur dioxide (SO²) emissions from our smelting and refining operations at Rustenburg, Springs and Zimplats. We continue with work relating to the implementation of the SO² abatement technology at our Zimplats operations.

Land management and biodiversity
The approach to waste management at Implats seeks to ensure compliance with the emerging legislative requirements relating to waste. We are focused on soil remediation, rehabilitation and closure plans for all mining operations. There has been ongoing rehabilitation at our Rustenburg operations. Ad hoc audits of current waste contractors are conducted to ensure that waste is handled in an environmentally acceptable manner and this will continue in the next year. We have updated our waste inventories at Rustenburg, Springs and Marula and ensured alignment with the new waste categorisation proposed by government. Our focus is on reducing waste and increasing recycling activities.

Following extensive biodiversity studies that were conducted for both the Rustenburg and Marula operations, we have recently completed a revised biodiversity management plan.

Implats not only strives to meet all legal requirements when it comes to alleviating the impact its mining activities have on the natural environment, but aims to leave a positive legacy. It is a goal to which all who work at Implats are committed.
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2 Fricker Road, Illovo, Johannesburg, 2196
Private Bag X18, Northlands, 2116
Tel: +27 (0)11 731 9000
Fax: +27 (0)11 731 9019
[email protected]
www.implats.co.za