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Safety | Health | Environment

Environmental management

Conserving natural resources and reducing the burden of pollutants to the natural environment remains our core focus in this field. We strive to achieve this by:
  • Complying with all applicable environmental legislation – as a minimum standard


Technology to reduce environmental impact

  • Developing innovative policies and programmes for addressing environmental impacts.

All our South African operations have environmental management programmes required under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) and the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), which is one of the key indicators in ensuring that Exxaro becomes a sustainable business. Given that the principles of the precautionary approach recommended by GRI are embedded in these pieces of legislation, Exxaro adopts the precautionary approach in evaluating business opportunities.

To enhance implementation of these legal requirements and the sustainable use of natural resources, draft standards for managing air quality, water, biodiversity, rehabilitation and incidents have been completed.

In pursuit of sustainable development, Exxaro is responding to the global threat of climate change, beginning with successfully determining the group’s carbon footprint. This process will allow us to identify opportunities in our operations to reduce greenhouse gases (page 87).

A dedicated in-house environmental management specialist unit is making good progress in addressing environmental risks and impacts to enhance Exxaro’s legal compliance.

Key risks and management activities
Key environmental risks from Exxaro’s mining and mineral processing activities include:

  • Water and waste management
  • Air quality and climate change
  • Biodiversity and land management
  • Rehabilitation and environmental liability management.


Environmental protection at Zincor


Water and waste management

Water and waste management

To manage Exxaro’s waste water risks, the following management actions were taken during the review period:

  • Integrated water and waste management plans were developed for Matla and the char plant. All other Exxaro operations have plans in place, except Arnot, Glen Douglas and Glisa which are planned for 2009.
  • Water balances were revised and updated for Zincor, the char plant and KZN Sands’ Hillendale mine. In progress are Glen Douglas, Matla, Arnot and KZN Sands’ central processing complex.

        Water efficiency projects at Exxaro  
  Business unit     Description  
  • In-pit storage of stormwater runoff for plant use with a pH neutralisation plant to avoid corrosion
  • Dewatering of Basalt aquifer as process water, the Basalt aquifer is fed mainly by seepage from unlined pollution control dams, stockpile areas and slimes facility
  • Water recovery from slimes disposal facility
  • Excess water from underground is being considered for distribution to Eskom as process water subject to water quality
  • Water recovery from slimes disposal facility
  • Stormwater runoff that accumulates in pit and plant area recycled via process water dams
  • Water reclamation through the press filter at plant reclaims water from the slimes
  • Water reclamation from slimes facility
  • Stormwater runoff from plant area captured and returned to plant for re-use
  • Pit water from groundwater flow and runoff pumped back to dirty water facilities for re-use
  • Sewage biologically treated with an option for re-use
  • Co-disposal facility with water reclamation back to plant for re-use
  • Stormwater runoff collected in lined pollution control dams at shaft areas for re-use in process water system
  New Clydesdale    
  • Slimes disposal underground with percolated water recovery for re-use in plant area with zero abstraction from Olifants River for coal-washing purposes
  • Stormwater runoff at plant area recycled back as process water.
  • Pit stormwater runoff used for dust suppression at Vaalkranz North
  North Block Complex    
  • Excess water from Blesbok pit and stormwater runoff collected in pollution control dams for dust suppression.
  • Rainwater collection from roofs to augment process water requirements
  • Borehole abstraction used to draw back seepage water from aquifer to curb spread of pollution plume and augment process water supply to plant
  Glen Douglas    
  • Stormwater runoff into open-cast areas used as process water in plant area
  KZN Sands    
  • Hillendale has reduced water consumption from Umgeni Water during rainfall season due to reclamation of stormwater runoff to plant
  • Seepage and runoff at central processing centre collected and used as process water for various purposes
  Namakwa Sands    
  • At mineral separation plant and smelter, process water recycled from disposal facilities back to plant

Considering South Africa’s status as a water-scarce country, in joint initiative to collaborate on water management issues in the highveld region of Mpumalanga province in an attempt to nd innovative long-term solutions. Other signatories are Anglo Coal SA, BHP Billiton Energy Coal SA, Xstrata and Eskom.

In the year ahead, water management will be a signicant area of focus for Exxaro, focusing on various aspects from security of supply to water efciency, waste water management and pollution control.

Water withdrawal by source

        Arnot   Glisa   Inyanda   Leeuwpan   Matla   New
  Tshikondeni   Glen
  Zincor   KZN
  Source     Eskom   Mokolo   Olifants River,   Boreholes   Eskom   Olifants
  Municipal   Unwa Dam,   Municipal   NAMWater   Municipal,   Municipal   Olifants River,  
            Dam,   (Mpumalanga)           River
      boreholes           boreholes,       (Western  
            boreholes,   boreholes           (Mpuma-                   rainwater       Cape),  
            pit water               langa)                   harvest       seawater  


Air quality management

Exxaro’s ensuring compliance with the requirements of the South African National Environmental Management Air Quality Act, limiting impacts on the receiving environment and key receptors by adopting a continuous improvement approach through innovative environmental management.

Given the nature of our diverse businesses, certain activities present greater challenges for adequate air quality management such as emissions generated from:

  • Blasting
  • Spontaneous combustion of discard dumps
  • Mineral ore-processing and handling activities
  • Wind erosion of exposed mining and operational areas
  • Entrainment of dust from unpaved operational roads
  • Tail-pipe gaseous emissions of on-site vehicles.

As a group, Exxaro does not produce ozone-depleting substances. In addition, the group does not report on NO X and SOX emmissions as this is only relevant at two operations, Zincor renery and KZN Sands. Monitoring systems are being established at these operations.

Using the Exxaro air quality management framework, 75% of business operations completed detailed emissionsair quality management activities are aimed at inventory and dispersion models during the year, and 93% of our operations monitor ambient concentration of dust fallout from mining activities. Monitoring activities at KZN Sands and Grootegeluk have been expanded to include PM10 (smaller particle matter suspended in air) using active analysers with remote data loggers and offsite data quality control and checks.



Climate change, energy and greenhouse gases

Energy management

Exxaro has adopted a consolidated approach with all related issues integrated under the energy management steering committee. This previously functioned as the clean energy forum but has been realigned to increase the prioritisation and management focus given to this important issue.

The scope of the steering committee includes operational energy management issues as well as the implementation of projects to enable Exxaro to thrive in a low-carbon economy. The forum is led by an executive general manager, and comprises senior management from corporate services and business units. Topics addressed include:

  • Regulatory environment
  • Energy consumption data reporting
  • Energy security
  • Energy efficiency
  • Mitigation and clean-energy opportunities
  • Integration with sustainability management.

The forum’s objectives include establishing a crossfunctional management structure to address all energyrelated issues, and ensuring the development of a comprehensive energy-consumption and carbon footprint reporting framework.

Energy efficiency
Exxaro remains committed to the energy efficiency accord signed in 2005 and, by participating in the energy efficiency technical committee (facilitated by the National Business Initiative), is playing a leading role in industry collaboration with the DME and other government agencies.

Exxaro uses just under 1% of all the electricity generated by Eskom. In 2006, Exxaro produced 379 443 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) through the consumption of petrol and diesel and more than 1,5 million tonnes of CO2e from purchasing electricity from the Eskom grid. Establishing these quantities – and investigating ways to reduce them – was the first step towards reaching Exxaro’s 2015 goal of improving energy efficiency by 15%. In 2007, the group’s electricity bill was R256 million – 3% of total operating expenses. This cost per tonne may increase significantly over the next four years purely as a result of tariff increases, which will be partially mitigated by the extensive energy efficiency initiatives being undertaken.

Mitigation and clean-energy opportunities
The Exxaro Chair in Business and Climate Change is based at Unisa’s College of Economic and Management Sciences. The R3-million three-year sponsorship will help in developing a core body of knowledge on climate change in South Africa to assist local businesses to adapt to, and reduce the effects of, climate change. This reinforces Exxaro’s commitment to achieving clean energy standards and remaining competitive while dealing effectively with climate change, potential energy shortages, related environmental concerns and rising costs of energy.

Exxaro has initiated a pre-feasibility study on two renewable energy projects with the potential of generating 250 – 400MW, in either wind or solar generation. The group is also progressing with a feasibility study on co-generation to produce some 200MW of electricity from waste energy such as furnace off-gas and waste heat at its own and at other organisations’ operations. The objective is to minimise energy waste, thus increasing energy efficiency dramatically. The carbon footprint of electricity from these sources is virtually zero and would reduce Exxaro’s carbon footprint.

Carbon disclosure project

As noted in the chief executive’s sustainable development message, Exxaro was recognised for its comprehensive response to climate change issues in the group’s first participation in the carbon disclosure project. This process assesses four issues surrounding climate change namely:

  • Climate change risks and opportunities – identify strategic risks and opportunities and their implications
  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions accounting – determine actual absolute GHG emissions
  • Performance – against targets and plans to reduce GHG emissions
  • Governance – determine responsibility and management approach to climate change.




Case study – Guyuni’s people see the light

Houses in the Guyuni community in Limpopo, near Exxaro’s Tshikondeni mine, had never enjoyed the simple luxury of electricity until Exxaro partnered with the Alternative Energy Development Corporation (AEDC) to bring zinc air fuel cells to the village. Exxaro is serious about improving the quality of life of the communities around its mines.

All households have been equipped with zinc-air fuel cells, and community members now enjoy the benefits of proper lighting and power for radios, cellphone chargers and small appliances drawing less than 35W. They are also saving money – the operating cost of the cells is less than the cost of candles and paraffin.


In addition to cheaper, better-quality light, community members now have the opportunity to use the energy to create their own employment. The cells can be used to power haircutters, sewing machines, soldering irons and for charging cordless power tools. They can even power a computer with internet access. A service shop has been established to service fuel cells and other electrical items, and to supply new fuel cell anodes. The shop will also receive a much-needed photocopier as a value-added service to the community and its learners.

These cells are kind to the environment – once their energy is exhausted, the zinc anodes are fully recycled, so no pollution or toxic chemicals are created in the recharging process. A vegetable garden was set up in the community where waste water is used and zinc oxide serves as a fertiliser.


Easy, affordable energy


The zinc-air fuel cell can power lights, radios, small TVs, cellphone chargers and other small appliances that draw less than 35W.

  • The cells are designed to deliver uninterrupted power for up to 240 hours before the anode needs changing
  • The fuel set comes in a neat carry case with a plug outlet
  • If more energy is required, the cells can be linked in parallel – so two cells can power a fridge that requires 60W
  • AEDC also supplies a range of appliances compatible with the cells, including a deep freeze, colour TV and DVD player combo, an anti-malaria vapourising unit, and a PC and flat-screen LCD monitor combination.



Relocation strategy and conservation of vulnerable flora at Inyanda

Biodiversity management

Conservation is becoming increasingly important as climate change impacts on habitats and the richness of global biodiversity. Exxaro-owned and managed land has significant biodiversity given the wide geographical distribution of the group’s operations. A summary of the biomes, vegetation types and associated business units is available at



  Desktop studies
(including Precis list)
  Mapping of
vegetation units
action plans
  Completed for
all Exxaro
  Operations completed:
  • Tshikondeni
  • Fairbreeze
  • Glen Douglas
  • Zincor
  • New Clydesdale
  Operations completed:
  • Tshikondeni
  • Fairbreeze
  • Glen Douglas
  • Zincor
  • New Clydesdale
  • Grootegeluk

Scheduled for 2009:
all operations

      Balance of operations scheduled for 2009.   Balance of operations scheduled for 2009.        


Exxaro’s mine rehabilitation policy and management standard is based on a legal and risk approach – a system of chronological steps to optimise ongoing rehabilitation at operational business units and prepare for efficient mine closure. It also emphasises the fact that rehabilitation starts at the feasibility stage of a mining operation.

This will now inform physical processes and financial provisions, including rehabilitation performance indicators.

Most business units are already reporting on these indicators each quarter. By closely monitoring this data, rehabilitation backlogs can be identified before undue financial liabilities occur. The goal of the environmental rehabilitation department is to report against set ongoing rehabilitation budgets per business unit, in terms of volumes and finance.

Exxaro contributed R54,9 million in 2008 and had R342 million in its trust fund at 31 December 2008 for mine closure activities. Annually updating rehabilitation provisions also guides potential rehabilitation optimisation alternatives that will decrease the closure liabilities of mines in the long term.

Exxaro 2008 rehabilitation performance status

Land management

Land management is aimed at reducing or preventing various business-related risks, such as:
  • Safety – previously mined areas, ie inactive sites that are scheduled for later rehabilitation and pose a safety risk in the interim
  • Environment – risk assessments of all inactive sites
  • Illegal occupation or invasion of land – settling disputes.

ISO/OHSAS certication

Nine of Exxaro’s health and safety certication (OHSAS 18001) and environmental certication (ISO 14001). While we did not meet our target of having all operations internationally certied in 2008, preparations are well advanced and certication of the outstanding business units is expected in the current year. To date, one operation has completed the conversion to OHSAS 18001:2007.

Environmental performance – 2008

To measure continuous improvement, all business operations have guidelines for reporting on relevant diesel, gas, electricity and water use performance indexes. These are included in the table on the following page together with a schedule of environmental incidents.

Corporate integrated safety, health and environment audits

Internal integrated safety, health and environment audits conducted by the head of the safety and sustainable development division, and executive general managers, have now been rolled out across group operations. With three mines audited to date, areas identied for improvement include:
  • Adherence to standards and procedures 15 operations have both the
  • Severe skills shortages in safety management (establishment of professionals-in-training programme for safety practitioners and implementation of skills retention programme)
  • Application of site-specific procedures and tracking operational adherence to standards and legislation through a programme of self-assessments and corporate audits.

Exxaro is also actively participating in representative industry forums to ensure the group develops and applies best practices at all operations.


Case study – Innovation and nature work hand
in hand

In our prior report, we outlined the environmental challenges faced with expanding Matla while preserving one of the larger wetland systems in Mpumalanga’s highveld, the sensitive and highly important Blesbokspruit/Rietspruit ecosystem.

In an example of innovation and nature working hand in hand, the team at Matla are going below the wetland using undermining, a technique typically used when a mine extends under a building, roadway or town. The team has adapted this approach into an innovative engineering design that allows them to extend Matla’s underground shortwall mining operation with minimal impact on the Blesbokspruit/Rietspruit wetland that lies above the surface.


The Matla wetland management project is one of Exxaro’s key biodiversity conservation projects. It is unique in that the water flow and function of the wetland is protected through a shortwall mining design that allows for even subsidence of the area. The entire wetland area will drop by 1,8m, thus avoiding the formation of ponds and ensuring the continued natural flow of water. The flow of water into the wetland is controlled in a way that protects the ecosystem and allows mining to continue without the risk of flooding.

The Blesbokspruit/Rietspruit wetland is one of the larger and more sensitive wetland systems in the area. Mining these coal reserves could have destroyed 120 hectares of identified non-channelled riparian wetland and another 132 hectares of the seasonally inundated non-channelled floodplain at the bottom of the valley. This innovative solution has ensured that the normal wetland function and biodiversity will remain intact.


Commodity business: 1 January – 31 December 2008

        Electricity (Gj)   Diesel (Gj)   Sasol Gas (Gj)   Petrol used (Gj)   Total energy
use (Gj) *
  Commodity business     2008   2007   2008   2007   2008   2007   2008   2007   2008   2007  
  Exxaro Coal     1 692 223   1 816 119   2 258 568   1 380 903   0   0   18 223   13 421   3 969 015   3 210 442  
  Exxaro Base Metals     1 795 828   1 852 900   143 596   145 703   18   0   414   584   1 939 855   1 999 187  
  Mineral Sands     2 051 525   1 983 715   173 422   72 944   319 020   320 593   1 087   0   2 545 053   2 377 251  
* Total energy gures comprise electricity, diesel, petrol and Sasol gas.
        Water (m3)   Product (Kt)   Energy per tonne  
  Commodity business     2008   2007   2008   2007   2008   2007  
  Exxaro Coal     11 623 896   7 746 713   44 834 000   40 534 259   0,09   0,08  
  Exxaro Base Metals     3 206 356   3 844 548   1 603 000   1 664 507   1,21   1,20  
  Mineral Sands     14 771 649   10 307 560   1 201 000   684 273   2,12   3,47  
        Electricity per tonne   Diesel per tonne   Water per tonne  
  Commodity business     2008   2007   2008   2007   2008   2007  
  Exxaro Coal     0,04   0,04   0,05   0,03   0,26   0,19  
  Exxaro Base Metals     1,12   1,11   0,09   0,09   2,00   2,31  
  Mineral Sands     1,71   2,90   0,14   0,11   12,30   15,06  
        CO2 from electricity
purchased (tonnes)**
  CO2 from diesel
  Commodity business     2008   2007   2008   2007  
  Exxaro Coal     517   483   167 238   102 325  
  Exxaro Base Metals     519   493   10 633   10 797  
  Mineral Sands     593   528   12 841   5 405  
    ** Electricity purchased x 1,04
*** Diesel purchased x 2,69 ÷ 1 000

Reported CO2 emissions reflect burning fossil fuels and electricity consumption. CO2 emissions from processes (spontaneous combustion, flaring, etc) are not currently reported as methodologies are still being developed and reviewed for the relevant operations. Please note that CO2 emission figures in the 2007 report were overstated by a factor of 1 000 due to the use of kilowatt hours as opposed to megawatt hours in the conversion calculation. These are therefore restated in this report.

    Level 1: minor impact and/or non-compliance
Level 2: intermediate impact and/or non-compliance
Level 3: major impact and/or non-compliance
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