Environmental auditing and incident management

Key features

  • 100% ISO 14001 certification retained across all operations.
  • Nine Level 3 environmental incidents reported, investigated and addressed.
  • Approximately R270 million spent on environmental management in 2013 (2012: R197 million).

We have formal incident reporting procedures in place, indicating the correct channels for dealing with incidents internally and for reporting to external stakeholders. The reporting of environmental incidents* is mandatory at all of our operations, and all moderate and significant incidents (Level 3 and above) are investigated according to the Incident Cause Analysis Methodology (ICAM) and reported to the relevant government departments when required. These investigations include the participation of the relevant environmental specialist, who is accountable for ensuring that the ICAM findings are conducted adequately. Close out and the implementation of actions is followed up by the relevant business units.

All incidents are logged on the ISO 14001 registers for each business unit. The investigation findings include recommended mitigation measures, as well as preventative steps to be implemented if necessary.

All of our operations (100%) retained ISO 14001 certification. We have developed an internal environmental maturity audit protocol, aligned with ISO 14001 as well as general environmental best practice. The baseline maturity audit will be undertaken in 2014. Environmental maturity determines the level of environmental awareness, understanding, commitment, responsibility and accountability within line management, excluding involvement of environmental staff.

  1. * Environmental incidents are classified as Level 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, with increasing severity and impact area. Level 4 and 5 incidents are deemed significant. A Level 3 incident is defined as an incident that results in a moderate impact on the environment, where natural processes are notably altered but continue in a modified way. Level 3 incident impacts are reversible within the lifetime of the operation and are confined to mine property.

Incidents

Level 3 environmental incidents [graph]

In 2013, we recorded nine Level 3 incidents, a significant decrease from the 19 incidents recorded in 2012, and zero Level 4 and 5 incidents. We are pleased to have achieved this decrease, through greater awareness of and improved alignment woth our environmental aims. No Level 4 or 5 incidents have ever been recorded at any of our operations. This was due to a greater awareness of and alignment to our aim of reducing environmental incidents.

Seven of the nine Level 3 incidents that occurred were unplanned water discharges from return water dams and settling dams around our operations, one was an SO2 exceedance that took place while our sulphur fixation plant was undergoing maintenance, and one was an accidental diesel spill that took place at the Smelter.

Mitigation measures

Unplanned water discharges are reported to the authorities within 24 hours of the incident occurring, as per our risk management procedure. Water samples are analysed and a detailed investigation into the root and systemic cause is undertaken to determine learnings and to be pro-active in mitigation and management. Water quality results from test after these discharges showed that they had limited impact on the receiving environment, following the corrective actions that we implemented. In addition to normal daily onsite inspections by environmental and safety personnel, weekly inspections on dams, water pipelines, are performed, for early detection of discharges or leaks which can arise across the mine.

The SO2 exceedance was as a result of scheduled maintenance and was reported as such, and mitigation of the diesel spillage was carried out by cleaning the area around the spill, and removing the contaminated soil for disposal.

GRI
EN23
Total number and volume of significant spills.
EN26
Initiatives to mitigate environmental impacts of products and services, and extent of impact mitigation.
EN28
Monetary value of significant fines and total number of non-monetary sanctions for non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations.