Land, biodiversity and heritage management

Key features

  • 23,631 hectares of land under management.
  • Full survey of heritage sites around Marikana operations completed.
  • Implementation of Biodiversity Action Plan through the development of a Memorandum of Understanding, which will allow for collaboration with Working for Water on alien and invasive species removal in the new year, in addition to current plant eradication projects.

Our approach to managing land and conserving natural habitats and biodiversity is informed by the statements and commitments contained in the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) Position Statement on Mining and Protected Areas, the newly released multi-stakeholder Mining and Biodiversity Guideline and the requirements of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEM:BA).

While we emphasise the economic importance of turning South Africa’s mineral resources to account, we are confident that responsible land management by mining companies can ensure the long-term integrity both of the natural environment and of cultural heritage sites. From exploration and prospecting, right through to closure, our custodianship of the land and biodiversity under our management is fully integrated into our operational and business strategies.

The Land Management Forum that we set up in 2012 has continued to be a valuable internal engagement platform in this regard, meeting quarterly to discuss land-related issues and various other stakeholder concerns such as legal risks.

No new land claims were lodged against Lonmin in 2013.

Number and description of significant disputes relating to land use, customary rights of local communities and indigenous peoples.
The extent to which grievance mechanisms were used to resolve disputes relating to land use, customary rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples and the outcomes.

We have 23,631 hectares of land under our management, which includes operational areas supporting active mining and processing activities, rehabilitated areas, and areas under exploration. Management of all of these is regularly audited (by both internal and external auditors) for EMP compliance and performance assessments are submitted to the DMR every two years.

Our EMPs contain comprehensive rehabilitation plans for all of our open pits and disturbed land, which outline our commitment to on-going monitoring, repair and maintenance after pits have been fully rehabilitated.

Progressive rehabilitation activities continued during 2013 at operational pits M9, M10a and M10b. No additional hectares were rehabilitated or restored during the year, and so the total area rehabilitated to date remained at 403 hectares.

Land under management
(Hectares) 2013 2012
Total land managed 23,631 23,631
Total area in use for company activities 21,140 21,140
Total area disturbed by opencast activities 1,490 698
Area rehabilitated to date 403 403
Area disturbed and not yet rehabilitated 212 212
Total area covered by waste rock (opencast) 1,399 202
Total area covered by waste rock (underground) 567
Total area covered by tailings 975 975

Responsible exploration

Impact mitigation and on-going rehabilitation measures are implemented throughout the exploration process. Our Environmental Drilling Standards were completed at the end of financial year 2012, with the inclusion of specific on-site rehabilitation commitments, and these now form part of tender requirements for any drilling project undertaken by Lonmin. Inspections are conducted after any drilling has been completed to ensure that proper remediation has taken place and a checklist is signed off by our land specialist once drilling has been completed and rehabilitation has been approved.

Fresh exploration drilling and remediation continued at Vlakfontein in 2013 with 1,430 metres of shallow drilling completed to date, in line with the Environmental Drilling Standards.

Drilling was briefly suspended following the discovery of evidence of an Iron Age settlement site, after which the location of a number of borehole positions needed to be moved to preserve the integrity of the site. The operations were inspected by a Lonmin archaeologist before, during and after drilling with a positive report sent to SAHRA indicating that there had been no disturbance to the site due to the drilling.

A pre-feasibility study at our Loskop exploration site is currently on hold due to possible contractual changes with our JV partner, Boynton Platinum, and so no developments occurred at this site during the year.

Internationally, we have two exploration projects in Canada, in joint ventures with Vale and Wallbridge respectively, and one in Northern Ireland. We remain in full compliance with the environmental laws of both those countries. In Canada, we are currently involved in consultation with First Nations representatives regarding the delineation of areas of relevant cultural heritage, in line with amendments made to the Ontario Mining Act in 2012.

Location and size of land owned, leased, managed in, or adjacent to, protected areas and areas of high biodiversity value outside protected areas.
Habitats protected or restored. Report whether and how biodiversity offsets have been used as part of the overall policy and approach to habitat protection and restoration.
Amount of land (owned or leased, and managed for production activities or extractive use) disturbed or rehabilitated.

The biodiversity on our mining and prospecting areas is regularly reviewed through the flora and fauna component studies of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and standard internal assessments. Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) are in place at all of our operations (100%) which map the biodiversity sensitivity of an area, in view of water requirements, protected or endangered species, or any relevant threats from alien or invasive species. Any recorded changes in biodiversity are checked against the IUCN Red Data List and can be incorporated as updates into the relevant BAP. No changes to our database were recorded in 2013.

None of our areas of operation is classified as an area of biodiversity sensitivity, nor is any of the land under our management located in or adjacent to any protected areas or areas classified as being of high biodiversity value. While there is a number of threatened species likely to be found at our operations, our BAPs contain approved and specifically designed relocation strategies for each, should they be encountered.

List of threatened species with a high probability of occurring around our operations
Scientific name Common name Red data status Probability
Metisella Meninx Marsh sylph Vulnerable High
Python natalensis Southern African python Vulnerable High
Atelerix frontalis South African hedgehog Near threatened High
Miniopterus schreibersii Schreiber’s long-fingered bat Near threatened High
Tatera leucogaster Bushveld gerbil Data deficient High
Falco naumanni Lesser kestrel Vulnerable High
Sagittarius serpentarius Secretary bird Near threatened High
Eucomis autumnalis Pineapple lily Vulnerable High
Combretum imberbe Leadwood Protected High
Sclerocarya birrea Marula Protected High

See Case study: Have you looked after your Marula tree today?

Description of significant impacts of activities, products, and services on biodiversity in protected areas and areas of high biodiversity value outside protected areas.
Strategies, current actions, and future plans for managing impacts on biodiversity.
Number of IUCN Red List species and national conservation list species with habitats in areas affected by operations, by level of extinction risk.
The number and percentage of total sites identified as requiring biodiversity management plans according to stated criteria, and the number (percentage) of those sites with plans in place.

It is our policy at Lonmin that no land disturbance can go ahead without compulsory due process taking place to identify whether a heritage site might be damaged or lost, in line with the requirements of the National Heritage Resources Act 25 of 1999 (NHRA).

In 2012, we approached the completion of a massive inventory of over 165 heritage sites identified around our Marikana operations. The majority of these are of artefacts or burial sites of the Bapo tribe, whose descendants now occupy the village of Bapong, east of Mooinooi.

In 2013, all outstanding information was incorporated into this inventory and further details of the various sites were added onto our company-wide GIS and AutoCad systems, so that their respective locations and impact mitigation requirements are immediately visible to everyone responsible for planning and development in all divisions. Further mitigation recommendations will be included over the upcoming year.

See Case study: Reburial of iron age skeletal remains in Wonderkop.

Closure planning is a critical aspect of mine planning and development from the outset, and in line with legislative requirements, it evolves and is updated as the mine plan develops and changes.

Mining companies are required to have access to sufficient funds for scheduled closure at the end of the anticipated life of a mine, and for the possibility of sudden, unscheduled closure due to unforeseen circumstances. Approved closure strategies are in place at all of our operations. Our unscheduled closure costs are R1.8 billion and scheduled closure costs are R854.6 million. These costings include Pandora and Limpopo.

Updating the Closure Strategy

As reported in 2012, we completed a draft Land Use and Spatial Development Framework as a guidance tool to inform the closure and rehabilitation options considered in our closure-based risk assessments. These assessments ensure that risks to closure plans are managed through prevention first, followed by minimisation and mitigation. The finalisation of this Framework however, is only anticipated following the amendment to our Environmental and Closure Planning Strategy.

At closure, much of the mining infrastructure directly linked to mining, such as shafts, needs to be correctly sealed and closed off. Buildings around the shaft area are demolished unless suitable post-closure uses can be identified for them. Infrastructure such as offices and workshops or related to services such as waste water treatment plants and landfill sites may remain, if it has the potential to serve the surrounding communities.

We are also still investigating the possible development of a regional-scale closure strategy in collaboration with neighbouring mining companies and land-users. Lonmin has begun engaging with the National Department of Human Settlement on regional housing matters, where regional closure as well as spatial land use planning at the time of closure will be critical. See the section Housing our employees.

Number and percentage of operations with closure plans.