Managing our environmental footprint

Key chapter takeaways

  • All operations maintained ISO 14001 certification
  • General and hazardous waste reduction targets were achieved and exceeded
  • We did not achieve our five-year targets (set in 2012) to
    • Reduce our aggregate energy consumption per unit of production by 8%, thereby reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions by 4%
    • Reduce our aggregate freshwater intake by 15% per unit of production
  • The atmospheric emission licence (AEL) for the base metal refinery (BMR) was amended and approved in support of the nickel purification plant (beneficiation project between Lonmin and Thakadu Battery materials)
  • Received water use licences for our Pandora and Limpopo operations
  • Mining Charter element: sustainable development and growth

Mining and metal processing have direct impacts on the environment and are resource-intensive activities. Our strategic commitment to operational excellence and ethical business practices drive our initiatives to minimise our environmental footprint and, where necessary, mitigate or remediate our impacts.

We report on our most material environmental risks and opportunities.

Accountability and Governance

The Lonmin Charter: We respect the communities and nations that host our operations and conduct business in a sustainable, socially and environmentally responsible way. This is underpinned by Lonmin’s value of Zero Harm – We are committed to Zero Harm to people and the environment.

Strategic approach: Improving operational efficiencies and continuing to improve relationships with key stakeholders

Lonmin’s Safety and Sustainable Development Policy:

  • Implementing effective material stewardship to manage the lifecycle of our products in a socially and environmentally responsible manner
  • Promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and the reduction, re-use and recycling of waste
  • Preventing pollution and environmental degradation in order to reduce our impact on the environment and the communities where we operate

Other policies, standards and plans governing environmental management

  • Environmental Strategy
  • Environmental standards and guidelines
  • Environmental authorisations
  • Site-specific Safety, Health, Environment Community (SHEC) and Safety, Health, Environment, Risk and Quality (SHERQ) policies
  • ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS)

Lonmin takes a precautionary approach to environmental management with the goal of ensuring compliance with regulations as a minimum and supporting continual improvement in our environmental performance.

Ultimate responsibility for the Company’s environmental performance lies with the Chief Executive Officer, supported by the Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) Committee of the Board, the Executive Committee (Exco) and senior management at corporate and operational levels. Lonmin has an Environmental Department within the SHE and Sustainability Department, comprising discipline-specific specialists and the operational function to ensure that the environmental strategy is aligned and implemented across all operations.

Environmental risks are incorporated into the Company’s corporate and operational risk registers, with reviews undertaken by the corporate and operational teams. The results of these reviews are presented to the SHE and Audit and Risk Committees of the Board.

Lonmin’s environmental requirements are implemented across the operations through certified ISO 14001 EMS. All operations maintained ISO 14001 certification in 2017. The integrity of the EMS and our overall environmental performance is regularly monitored and verified through a range of internal and external audits.

Performance against a range of internal environmental indicators, objectives and targets are tracked monthly. These reports are communicated to the operations, the Executive Committee (Exco) and the Board. Our current five-year environmental performance targets concluded on 30 September 2017, and we have identified new targets.

Environmental budgets are maintained at operational and Group level to ensure implementation of projects, monitoring, services, auditing, environmental management and consulting at various businesses throughout the operations.

External policies, frameworks and regulations

While the primary environmental legislation that apply to our operations are outlined below, there are numerous others that apply to our activities. We are committed to adhering to these legal requirements and keep abreast with all new and amended legislation through our legal database.

  • Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 28 of 2002 (MPRDA)
  • Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA), which provides requirements on aspects such as tailings storage facility safety
  • National Environmental Management Act, 107 of 1998 (NEMA)
  • National Water Act, 36 of 1998 (NWA)
  • National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 59 of 2008 (NEMWA)
  • National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 39 of 2004 (NEMAQA)
  • National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 10 of 2004 (NEMBA)
  • Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, 16 of 2013

We are committed to the principles and position statements of the ICMM and integrate these requirements within our EMS. We are working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and are in the process of mapping and aligning our sustainable development agenda with these goals.

Approach and Performance

Engaging with stakeholders: An environmental context

Lonmin has a comprehensive active database of interested and affected parties in and around our operations. We engage with local communities on key focus areas and areas of concern, including consultations as required by legislation.

We hold structured engagements with our regulatory authorities, including the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). These include site visits, which serve to understand the regulators’ main concerns and processes, and increase the regulators’ knowledge of Lonmin’s operations and specific challenges. This engagement provides an opportunity to update the regulator on our strategy, compliance status, various environmental activities and initiatives, and key performance indicators (KPIs).

A formal environmental grievance mechanism is in place for stakeholders to communicate environmental concerns. Environmental complaints are captured on the ISO 14001 EMS, investigated and responded to according to these procedural requirements. A dedicated environmental hotline (014 571 2088) is directed to the Lonmin emergency and disaster management call centre, where complaints and concerns are captured. At the precious metal refinery (PMR) in Brakpan, there is a dedicated communication hotline (011 365 6625/6588) to the security control room, as well as an intercom box, which allows community members to register complaints where the same process is followed. These hotlines are manned 24/7.

A summary of complaints received and responses to these is included in the supplementary report on stakeholder engagement.

Environmental compliance

There were three level 3 environmental incidents during 2017, which were all related to water management, as described below. Level 3 environmental incidents are those incidents that have a moderate impact on the environment, but are reversible within the lifetime of the operations. No level 4 or 5 incidents occurred, which are those incidents defined as reportable to regulatory authorities in terms of section 30 of NEMA and section 20 of the NWA.

Lonmin commissioned an external audit of the Company’s environmental legal compliance to get an independent opinion on compliance. This is due to conclude in 2018. The consolidated and amended Marikana Western Platinum Limited (WPL) and Eastern Platinum Limited (EPL) 2012 environmental management programmes received approval from the DMR, inclusive of the approval for the bulk tailings treatment project.

No fines or directives were issued to Lonmin in terms of environmental management. Further details on discipline-specific authorisations are included in the environmental focus sections that follow.

Environmental open days and engagements

Lonmin hosts environmental stakeholder open days and focus group engagements with our stakeholders. This allows Lonmin the opportunity to provide information on general environmental management and Lonmin-specific environmental performance and management measures. In turn, our stakeholders are able to interact with our environmental teams and raise concerns or queries pertaining to our operations. Our 2017 open day theme was ‘Do your bit/vikela Imvelo’, highlighting the importance of a collaborative approach to environmental management. This year’s events were held at our Marikana and Limpopo operations and were well attended by stakeholders from various sectors of society, including regulatory authorities, municipalities, tribal councils, ward councillors, community members, service providers and our employees. Our Safety, Health, Community and Emergency and Disaster Management departments supported the day by providing information at various stands on display.

Focus group engagements took place, which included dialogue on the management and minimisation of dust at our tailings facilities.

Community members and school groups were hosted on a site visit to the facility where the chemical suppression project was being implemented.

Lonmin’s Safety and Sustainable Development Policy
  • Promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and the reduction, re-use and recycling of waste
Water governance
  • Water Conservation and Demand Management Strategy
  • Water Policy
  • Water use licences
  • Integrated Water and Waste Management Plans
  • Integrated water balance
  • Environmental management systems
Key focus areas
  • Secure water supply
  • Responsible water use
    ­New target: Achieving 2022 targets to reduce Rand Water consumption by 10% for the Marikana and PMR operations from the 2017 baseline
  • ­Water Conservation and Demand Management Strategy progress
  • ­Implementation plan for the Marikana, Pandora and Baobab water use licences

Water management

Responsibly using and managing our water resources is critical as the impacts of climate change, ageing and poorly maintained infrastructure and illegal water connections become increasingly evident. The rapid growth in neighbouring towns and community settlements continues to put pressure on bulk water and resource supply. The demand for water is forecast to exceed current resources.

Our water supply comes from a variety of sources, ensuring variable supply in line with our Water Conservation and Water Demand Management Strategy. The Marikana operations are supplied with potable water from Rand Water, freshwater from the Buffelspoort Irrigation Scheme, and abstraction from the ground water resource (anthropogenic (man-made) aquifers and abstraction due to mining activities). The bulk of our freshwater intake is at our Marikana operations, making up 89.8% of our total freshwater consumption (6,828,474 m3).

The PMR is supplied by Rand Water and our Limpopo operations draw water from well fields. As water demand increases within the domestic, industrial and agricultural sectors, the availability for the mining sector decreases.

Our Water Conservation and Demand Management Strategy aims to:

  • Secure access to sufficient water to supply our operations and sustain our Life of Business Plan
  • Optimise freshwater consumption
  • Use process water more efficiently

The strategy considers community water needs through our infrastructure. Various projects were identified to meet the objectives of this strategy, with a total implementation budget of around R342 million across the project timeframes to be invested. One of the key water resource developments over the past five years was the development and use of anthropogenic aquifers in our backfilled opencast pit areas at the Marikana operations. These unique aquifers provide greater flexibility and access to water in respect of seasonal variations.

Water Conservation and Demand Management Strategy

Our site-wide simulation model provides critical insight to our current and future water demand requirements. The model simulates how water is used on-site and how it will be used in future. It collates flows ranging from evaporation, rainfall, seepage and metered flow. We considered our supply of potable water to the surrounding communities through Lonmin’s on-site potable supply network from Rand Water.

Reducing freshwater intake

We use an integrated water balance to inform decisions about our water use and assist in managing the transfer of water from water-positive areas to water-deficit areas within the operations.

Efficiency targets are assigned to business units in terms of potable water use and are continuously monitored.

A water demand management standard operating procedure was developed in response to drought conditions experienced at our operations. This procedure incorporates water conservation and water demand management. We have a closed-loop reticulation system in place at our operations to reduce our freshwater footprint and improve re-use and recycling. There are seven waste water sewage treatment plants at our Marikana operations from which the final effluent is re-used for operational processes. During 2017 a pipeline was constructed to direct water from the water-positive eastern side of the Marikana operations to the water-deficit western side at an approximate cost of R23 million. This transfer spans a total distance of 25 kilometres. Since commissioning in 2017, approximately 300,000 m3 has been transferred. In total, through our reticulation system, approximately 14.9 million m3 (2016: 15.4 million m3) of water was recycled and re-used. A reverse osmosis water treatment plant is being piloted at the PMR to treat storm water and return it for use in operations.


Our five-year target (to 30 September 2017) was to reduce our aggregate freshwater intake per unit of production by 15% from the 2012 baseline year. This translates to an efficiency target of 5.46 m3/PGMoz. In 2017, we achieved an efficiency of 5.76 m3/PGMoz, missing our target of 5.46 m3/PGMoz by 5%. However, compared to 2012 baseline year we improved our water efficiency by 11%.

Water quality and discharge

Our water management programme includes ground water modelling, water level, surface and ground water monitoring, toxicity testing and biomonitoring. An extensive water monitoring programme is in place at our operations, with sampling done by an independent service provider and analysis undertaken by accredited laboratories. Water quality is evaluated against various standards relevant to each monitoring point. The mining and processing of PGMs do not generate acid mine drainage.

Should discharge incidents occur, they are reported to the relevant regulating authority. An incident is reported based on a combination of volume, quality, impact on the environment and legal requirements. Corrective and preventive actions are implemented based on a root cause analysis.


Three level 3 water discharge incidents occurred (2016: five). Incidents were reported to the regulating authorities.

Date Area Incident description
4 January 2017 Marikana Smelter Rowland Corner Dam discharged into the environment due to infrastructure and reticulation constraints
30 May and 17 September 2017 Marikana Smelter Sewerage discharged to the environment as a result of vandalism to a sewer manhole

Water recycling and re-use

1 Freshwater efficiency, indicating consumption of freshwater utilised for potable and industrial use from Rand Water, Ekurhuleni Municipality, Limpopo Wellfields and Buffelspoort Dam per PGMoz produced (m3 per PGMoz).
Lonmin’s Safety and Sustainable Development Policy
  • Promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and the reduction, re-use and recycling of waste
  • Responding to climate change and driving the reduction of greenhouse gases by adopting best practice technology, alternative energy sources, improved control systems and management practices
Energy governance
  • Energy Management Strategy (aligned with SANS 5001)
  • Energy use monitoring
  • Environmental management systems

Energy management

Our energy profile comprises a range of sources, with electricity being the most significant contributor at 89% (5,567.6 TJ). Electricity is used for powering surface and underground ventilation fans, dewatering pumps, material handling equipment, processing plants and winder plants. This comprises approximately 6.5% of our South African operating costs, excluding depreciation and financing. Coal (347.1 TJ (6%)) is utilised at our smelter and BMR, and diesel (229.2 TJ (4%)) is utilised primarily in the transportation of ore and concentrate across the value chain.

Energy efficiency initiatives are important to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and ensure the sustainability and execution of the Life of Business Plan. The impact of above-inflation future electricity price increases and carbon taxes are built into the Life of Business Plan as part of our strategy to improve cost efficiencies. Electricity consumption targets are set per business area and reported on a monthly basis.

Energy efficiency and management projects are centrally managed, tracked and reported on. A holistic web-based energy management system is used to identify new opportunities to improve energy efficiency, with an initial focus on compressed air and ventilation facilities, given that these facilities comprise a significant component of the total electrical footprint.

Previous investigations into a solar plant energy project concluded that this project was not viable in the current environment.

Key focus areas
  • Improving energy efficiency
    New target: Achieving 2022 target to reduce absolute electricity consumption by 5% at our Marikana and PMR operations from the 2017 baseline
  • Continual investigation to energy and associated GHG reductions

Savings from energy efficiency initiatives for 2017

  • Our target was to improve our aggregate energy consumption per unit of production by 8% from a 2012 baseline. This translates to an efficiency target of 4.38 GJ/PGMoz. Our 2017 efficiency was 4.72 GJ/PGMoz against the target of 4.38GJ/PGMoz. Although we did not achieve our target, our efficiency has improved over the past five years by 0.9%.
  • Energy consumed decreased to 6,238.10 TJ; from 6,344 TJ in 2016.
  • Electricity efficiency per kWh/tonnes hoisted was 149.32 (2016: 153.00)
  • Indirect energy (electricity) consumption was 1,546,561 MWh, or 5,567.6 TJ (2016: 5,657.0 TJ)
  • Direct energy profile: 670.5 TJ (2016: 691.0 TJ)
1 Conversion: one Terajoule = 1,000 Gigajoules; one Megawatt = 0.0036 Terajoules (2006 IPCC Guidelines for national Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Volume 2 Energy, Chapter 1 Introduction)
Lonmin’s Safety and Sustainable Development Policy
  • Preventing pollution and environmental degradation in order to reduce our impact on the environment and the communities where we operate
Air quality governance
  • Emission reduction management plans
  • Dust management plans
  • Environmental management systems
Key focus areas
  • Minimise atmospheric emissions and suspended particles
  • Optimisation of the ambient monitoring network
  • Attain design efficiencies on pollution control equipment

Air quality

Lonmin acknowledges its responsibility to continuously manage and minimise the emissions to the ambient environment.

Emissions management

Our processing activities are regulated through an atmospheric emission licence, which regulates the amount of sulphur dioxide in addition to other regulated emissions released from our operations. These emissions are regulated by minimum emission standards as set by our regulating authority.

Atmospheric emissions are minimised through the use of air pollution control equipment installed at our processing facilities. This is in line with the air quality objectives and requirements detailed in our EMPs, which include emissions and ambient air quality monitoring. The process of cleaning emissions results in hazardous waste streams including CaSO3 (from the smelter), and liquid acid and alkaline waste (from the PMR). NEMAQA requires a reduction of emissions by 2020.This is applicable to the smelter, BMR and the PMR. Attaining these standards will require significant capital investment. We made good progress in the identification of requirements to enable our relevant processing activities to achieve the required reductions.

Total suspended particles (TSPs) are generated from tailings facilities, transportation on paved and unpaved roads, mining activities such as drilling and blasting, materials handling, and crushing and screening. These emissions are mitigated through a range of measures that include:

  • Vegetation growth on the sidewalls of all tailings dams and surfaces of these facilities
  • Chemical and water suppression on the surfaces of unpaved roads
  • ­Sweeping of tarred/surfaced roads
  • ­Suppression systems at materials handling and crushing facilities

We commenced with our application of chemical suppression on our active tailings dams. Historically, water suppression systems were used. Due to theft of irrigation infrastructure and water availability, this mitigation measure was deemed unsustainable and stopped. Chemical suppressants offer effective dust suppression with minimal use of water and can be applied without the security risk of theft to infrastructure and equipment.

Ambient dust levels are monitored in and around our operations, reported to our relevant authorities and communicated to our communities during environmental open days.

Other emissions, including those classified as O-zone-depleting substances (ODS), persistent organic pollutants, volatile organic compounds and hazardous emissions are present at our operations, although to a much lesser extent. Our procurement systems are set up to select equipment that does not use ODS, and a phase-out plan was initiated to remove equipment containing ODS.

  • SO2 emissions averaged 13.1 tonnes per day
  • The atmospheric emission licence for the BMR was amended and approved in support of the nickel purification plant
Lonmin’s Safety and Sustainable Development Policy
  • Responding to climate change and driving the reduction of GHG by adopting best practice technology, alternative energy sources, improved control systems and management practices.
Climate change governance
  • Energy Management Strategy (aligned with SANS 5001)
  • Water Conservation and Water Demand Management Strategy
Key focus areas
  • New target: Achieving 2022 target to reduce absolute GHG emissions (Scope 1 and 2) by 4% from the 2017 baseline
  • Reduce carbon emissions
  • Adaptation to changing climatic conditions
  • Benefits of PGMs and their application to the environment
  • GHG reporting in terms of national legislation

Climate change

Our business strategy addresses climate change through various mitigation and adaptation initiatives, including energy efficiency and energy security projects, seizing opportunities in PGM marketing, investment in fuel cell technology, and water conservation and demand management. Our initiatives are supported through resource management initiatives that reduce energy requirements and subsequent emissions, and water management through our Water Conservation and Demand Management Strategy.

Lonmin’s most significant source of GHG emissions relates to the impact of our indirect emissions (scope 2) footprint arising from the use of electricity from South Africa’s predominately coal-based power generation system. Our primary GHG reduction initiatives are linked to our energy efficiency projects. We aim to reduce our carbon footprint by, among others, minimising waste disposed to landfill and implementation of energy reduction projects

We participate in the climate change and water Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) programmes, which invite companies to voluntarily disclose their performance in these areas. In 2017 we submitted our 11th consecutive CDP report, and our fourth CDP water disclosure report – the third water disclosure report for public disclosure. These reports can be accessed through CDP’s website at

South African carbon policy status

The South African government is driving two important developments on emissions reduction, carbon budgeting and carbon taxation.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has been developing proposals for carbon budgeting since mid-2013. There are several issues outstanding on the budgeting approach, including, significantly, the design of a mandatory phase commencing in 2021. The intention is to tax companies at the full tax rate only on emissions that exceed their budgets.

National Treasury issued a discussion paper on carbon taxation in 2010 and an updated draft carbon tax bill in 2015. National Treasury’s intention is different from the DEA’s in that the proposal is to tax all emissions, after granting various tax-free percentages, including basic, trade exposure and carbon offsets allowances. While it is not yet clear what the final form, impact and implementation date of the carbon tax regime will be, Lonmin is engaging with government through the Chamber of Mines regarding the performance allowance (Z-factor) that applies to the gold and platinum sectors in calculating carbon tax. Forecasts of the likely impact of a carbon tax are built into the Life of Business Plan as part of our strategy to improve cost efficiencies.

  • Our target was to reduce scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 4% by 2017 from a 2012 baseline year. We did not achieve this target as our absolute GHG emissions increased by 24,341 tCO2 (5.47% mainly an increase in electrical consumption) against the 2012 baseline for scope 1 and 2 emissions1
  • Our carbon footprint is 1,602,849 tCO2e (scope 1 and 2) and our GHG efficiency is 1,214 tCO2e/PGMoz (scope 1 and 2)
  • Emissions arising from electricity consumption comprise 95.5% of the total carbon footprint
  • In total, Lonmin emitted 1,608.7 ktCO2e (2016: 1,665.2 ktCO2e) (scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions)
1 The 2012 baseline year did not include in scope 1 the GHG emissions from our waste disposal activities or the waste water treatment plant. We did not include these sources in the target and therefore removed them from the performance statement against the target for comparison reasons.
1 Disposal of waste to landfill and waste water treatment works GHG emissions have been added to scope 1 from 2016 onwards.

Performance on GHG intensity (tCO2e/PGMoz)

Lonmin’s Safety and Sustainable Development Policy
  • Promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and the reduction, re-use and recycling of waste
  • Preventing pollution and environmental degradation in order to reduce our impact on the environment and the communities where we operate
Waste management governance
  • Waste management standard
  • Waste licences and permits
  • Integrated Water and Waste Management Plans
  • Environmental management systems
  • Waste classification – safety data sheets/waste to landfill assessments
Key focus areas
  • Responsible management of hazardous waste streams at the Marikana operations
  • Construction of Mooinooi landfill site extension
  • Investigate alternatives to landfill for CaSO3 and PMR effluent
  • Closure planning for landfilled sites to meet financial provision legislation
  • Review codes of practice for mine residue deposits
  • New target: Reduce general and hazardous waste to landfill by 5% by 30 September 2022 from the 2017 baseline

Waste management

Responsible waste management is fundamental to the mining, processing and refining of PGMs. During these activities, general and hazardous waste is generated. We strive to comply with the ever-changing legal landscape of waste management, encourage opportunities for diversion of waste to landfill, and regard waste as a resource.

General waste includes domestic waste, packaging, garden waste, rubber, plastic, scrap metal and food waste. Calcium sulphite (CaSO3), liquid acid and alkaline waste streams are our most significant forms of hazardous waste, although there are smaller amounts of other hazardous waste streams generated by laboratories (primarily lead), clinics and operational sites. Waste rock and tailings are mining waste streams that are generated as part of our mining and processing activities, all of which are managed and disposed of on-site at our operations.

We aim to minimise our waste footprint in line with our focus on the waste hierarchy and duty-of-care principle. All of our operations segregate wastes for recycling and re-use at source, with secondary sorting undertaken at our salvage yards. Where waste generation is unavoidable, we prioritise reducing the generation of waste, consider alternatives for disposal to landfill, and reduce resource utilisation to reduce our environmental impact. Where waste disposal takes place, we ensure that we dispose of our waste streams in a responsible manner to licensed waste facilities.

Waste classifications and landfill assessments as per the Waste Classification and Management Regulations in NEMWA were undertaken for all waste streams aligned with SANS 10234. Safety data sheets were developed and provide information regarding responsible handling and management of our waste streams to transporters and end users.

Expenditure on waste management services across our operations totalled approximately R132 million (2016: R157 million). This includes costs associated with general and hazardous waste management services, consulting costs, audit costs, landfill operational costs at Mooinooi landfill, and the management and engineering of our residue stockpiles, but excludes costs associated with community waste projects.

Summary of waste streams

General waste

General waste is separated at each operational entity into various waste streams, which include non-recyclable domestic waste, mixed recyclables, wood, steel and rubber, to maximise recycling and re-use opportunities. Registered specialist waste contractors are used for waste collection and internal and external waste transportation. General waste that cannot be re-used, refurbished or recycled is disposed of at permitted landfill sites.

Lonmin operates the only permitted general waste landfill in the Mooinooi/Marikana area, which provides disposal opportunities for communities, businesses and mining. The landfill is annually audited to ensure permit compliance. A new waste licence was secured for the facility during 2017 that provides for an extension to develop another 40 years of landfill capacity. Construction of the extension is budgeted for 2018. We report on all general waste being disposed of at the Mooinooi landfill as part of the National Waste Information System.

General waste materials recycled and re-used

1 The quantities of recycled ferrous and non-ferrous scrap have been restated for 2013 to incorporate additional types of these scrap materials.
  • Our target was to reduce general waste to landfill by 5% from the 2012 baseline year. In 2017, we reduced general waste to landfill by 16.2% from the baseline year
  • General waste generated, 6.8% higher than 2016
  • ­General waste to landfill, 1.8% lower than 2016
  • ­54% of general waste diverted from landfill (recycled, re-used and composted) during the year

Hazardous waste

We continuously drive both technical and non-technical research and development for best practical environmental options to divert hazardous waste from landfill. We aligned our operations to meet the prohibition of waste lamps to landfill, and implemented a waste lamp bulb storage and collection system across the operations. The waste light bulbs are sent off-site for recycling of all components, including waste, mercury, phosphorus and arsenic. Where disposal of hazardous waste is unavoidable, disposal takes place at permitted landfill sites.

The environmental authorisation and waste licensing process for the PMR waste incinerator is continuing. This aims to address our target for reducing disposal to landfill, as well as securing the potential for PGM recovery within this closed system.

We conduct third-party audits on external hazardous waste management facilities to ensure compliance, and adherence to the requirement of duty of care of our hazardous waste from cradle to cradle/grave.

We comply to the NEMA Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) Regulations, with an updated PCB register and DEA-approved PCB phase-out plans in place.

Calcium sulphite

CaSO3 is produced as a residue from the capture and treatment of sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions at the WPL smelter at our Marikana operations and is disposed of at a licensed waste disposal site. Successful alternative use or recycling alternatives for our CaSO3 waste stream has proven challenging due to its hygroscopic properties, and high moisture and salt content. We continue to undertake various trials and pilot studies to find a sustainable solution for diversion from landfill.

During March 2017, stakeholders near the landfill site in Olifantsfontein raised complaints about odour. This is where our service provider disposed of CaSO3.They sited CaSO3 as a potential contributor to the odours experienced. CaSO3 is not classified carcinogenic, is classified as odourless, and no data exists to indicate that this waste stream generates malodorous or noxious odours in the state that it was disposed at that landfill site. Despite this, the WPL smelter decided to divert this waste from the Olifantsfontein waste disposal site.

Liquid waste from the PMR

The processes at the PMR produce acid and alkaline liquid waste streams that are currently treated off-site and disposed to landfill. Our goal is to run a closed-loop system on these waste streams and we are researching ways to recycle the substantial amount of water in this waste back into the process plants to reduce municipal water use. We implemented one of these technical solutions, in compliance with environmental legislation, with the successful construction and commissioning of a reverse osmosis plant in April 2017, to treat 7 m3/hour of our dirty storm water runoff and condensate, to an 80% useable process water. The PMR continues to optimise the reverse osmosis plant for the potential treatment of various waste streams on-site. As liquid waste to landfill will be prohibited by August 2019, we are investigating this and other technical solutions for treatment of these complex waste streams.

  • 77,932 tonnes of hazardous waste generated, 1.88% more than in 2016
  • Our target was to reduce hazardous waste to landfill by 5% from the 2012 baseline year. In 2017, we reduced hazardous waste to landfill by 10.4% from the baseline year
  • A decrease in hazardous waste disposal quantities has been seen due to the improved operation of the desulphurisation plant, in conjunction with the decrease in production, the operation of the PMR reverse osmosis plant as well as unforeseen plant shutdowns

Lonmin stores tailings from the concentrators at six operational above-ground tailings storage facilities (TSFs) and continuously monitor an additional five dormant TSFs. 9,889 kt of tailings were generated (2016: 10,222 kt) and deposited onto the six functional TSFs. Specific mandatory codes of practice guide how TSFs are managed and these are submitted to the DMR and DWS dam safety office.

Specialist tailings contractors manage our TSFs and are on-site to continuously monitor TSF integrity, stability and functionality. Specialist engineers conduct quarterly inspections to monitor compliance to relevant legislation. Lonmin has a Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) procedure available for emergency preparedness and response (EPR) for tailings dam and return water dam failure commensurate with potential failure consequences, aligned to that of the contractor EPR procedure. We undertook a gap assessment in terms of conformance to the International Council on Mining and Minerals (ICMM) Tailings Storage Facilities Governance Framework and are addressing inadequacies identified.

The theft of fencing at our TSFs continues to be a major challenge, leaving Lonmin exposed to illegal access by people and animals with associated safety concerns, side slope rehabilitation damage and stability impacts. We continue to engage with regulatory authorities on these challenges.

We have started working with the University of the Free State to assess the feasibility of using nitrate-eating bacteria to address the nitrate levels contained in tailings to reduce the potential for land and water contamination. Pilot work will commence in 2018.

The construction of the bulk tailings treatment project, where the hydraulic re-mining of the EPL TSF 1 to recover residual chromite and PGMs, is progressing according to plan and is expected to commence operation during 2018. We received the environmental authorisation and water use licence for the project.

Waste rock

Waste rock is non-ore-bearing rock disposed of onto surface waste rock stockpiles, also known as mine residue stockpiles. Opencast operations generate overburden waste stockpiles, which are returned to the opencast pit during rehabilitation processes. Lonmin’s Marikana operations have nine waste rock stockpiles from underground mining and a number of overburden waste stockpiles associated with our opencast operations. We manage a single waste rock stockpile at our Limpopo operations. In total, Lonmin generated 535 kt of waste rock during 2017 (2016: 865 kt), less than 2016 due to a decrease in developmental progress and the placement under care and maintenance of 1B shaft at Karee.

Waste rock is used in road and general construction by surrounding municipalities, provincial road agencies, the community, and other private entities. In this way, waste rock is re-used, reducing our environmental liability and rehabilitation costs.

A waste rock re-use framework is being prepared to formalise the governance and responsible use of this waste stream, covering various aspects including environmental, safety, health, security, local economic development and related procurement processes.

Land contamination

We continue to assess the potential for contamination to land in addition to the formal assessments conducted at our Marikana operations. None of the areas assessed could be defined in terms of Part 8 of the NEMWA, and thus do not require registration on the DEA’s contaminated land inventory.

The PMR has started planning for the detailed design of the trench downstream of the old evaporation dams to intercept and collect contaminated groundwater, as per the remediation order for contaminated land. We continue to monitor the extensive groundwater network to analyse the trends and intensity of the pollution plume. Treating contaminated ground water is a focus within the effluent treatment technology investigations.

Hazardous waste materials disposed to landfill, recycled and treated

Lonmin’s Safety and Sustainable Development Policy
  • Promoting integrated land use management and biodiversity conservation by applying a precautionary approach during all phases of our operations, including mine closure
Biodiversity and land management governance
  • Biodiversity and land management standard
  • Environmental drilling standard
  • Biodiversity action plan (BAP)
  • Biodiversity no nett loss protocol
  • Closure and rehabilitation plan
  • Environmental management system
  • ICMM Position Statement on Mining and Protected Areas
Key focus areas
  • Responsible land and biodiversity management
  • Closure and rehabilitation planning
  • Alignment to the new NEMA Financial Provision Regulations
  • Removing alien and invasive species
  • Complete the diversion and ecological re-instatement projects around the TSF 8 tailings dam

Biodiversity and land management

Biodiversity and ecosystem services management

Lonmin regards biodiversity and ecosystem services as a material aspect in line with its commitment to environmental land stewardship, allowing ecosystems to function effectively. We do not have operations in high biodiversity or sensitive areas. Our Marikana and Limpopo operations are located in areas that are listed by the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act, 10 of 2004, as vulnerable ecosystems. A number of endangered, protected, vulnerable and threatened flora and fauna species are found at our operations. Plans and procedures are in place to identify and apply for relevant permits for the removal and relocation of these protected floral species. Further detail on our biodiversity composition can be found in our biodiversity management supplementary report.

We developed a biodiversity no nett loss protocol linked to the BAP for Marikana, where project planners, managers and implementers are guided regarding the decision pathway methodology to identify, avoid and/or mitigate potential risks and impacts on biodiversity resulting from our activities. The BAP geographic information system toolkit allows for the rapid evaluation and identification of risks in this decision-making. We continuously implement the required actions recommended and identified through our BAP.

Alien invasive plant removal is progressively implemented at our operations. In 2017, herbicides were aerially applied to certain TSFs and dams. Training and skills development was provided to unemployed community members to assist with the removal and relocation of protected plants for various projects such as the construction of TSF 8 and the upgrade of a schools and sport fields in the area of Segwaelane and Marikana.

This year we started with detailed biodiversity studies, for the ecological transfer/relocation of the secondary tributary of the Mareltwana River, into the design of the water diversion for the construction of TSF 8. The DWS commended Lonmin on the ingenuity of the process undertaken thus far.

Heritage management

We constantly update our heritage site inventory, which lists at over 170 heritage sites including archaeological sites and graves. We manage these in terms of the requirements of the National Heritage Resources Act, 25 of 1999. Lonmin respects the cultural heritage of the communities in which we operate and allows families of ancestors buried in and around our operations to enter the sites and, where required, hold cleansing and remembrance ceremonies.

Closure and rehabilitation

We aim to leave a legacy of sustainable closure by undertaking adequate planning and concurrent rehabilitation during the operational phase of our activities. We are updating our closure and rehabilitation plans to align with the new NEMA Financial Provision Regulations, inclusive of the requirements of the Rehabilitation Strategy Implementation Plan as required by our water use licences. The DEA is publishing draft amendments to the Financial Provision Regulations, in an attempt to address uncertainty with these, and we are working with the Chamber of Mines in terms of engaging with DEA on these amendments. The Company is investigating incorporating social aspects into the environmental closure planning process to ensure sustainable closure where long-term community economic viability will be a reality. These initiatives will align with the next Social and Labour Plan cycle that commences from 2019 to identify sustainable projects that will go beyond the life of mine.

In 2017, progressive rehabilitation included the re-instatement and rehabilitation of the U12A opencast pit. We are finalising the drafting of closure applications, inclusive of risk assessments for the rehabilitated U1A, 1B and 1C pits. Monitoring of the rehabilitated opencast areas to determine the success of rehabilitation, and identify the need for further repair and maintenance at these areas. A challenge we face is the various opposing land uses in and around our operations. This led to the encroachment of communities and animals onto our opencast and tailings dams rehabilitated areas. This year we started with the compilation of an animal management plan to address this matter.

Lonmin’s unscheduled and scheduled closure cost assessments, to determine liability for our mining and prospecting rights, are undertaken by independent specialists on an annual basis with reports submitted to the DMR for verification. Any shortfall required in financial provision is made primarily through the issuing of bank guarantees, or transfers to the Lonmin Platinum Pollution and Rehabilitation Trust Fund. The full costing of unscheduled closure, which includes the environmental liability associated with all our assets, remediation and rehabilitation required, is included in Lonmin’s Annual Report and Accounts.

Realising product opportunities and promoting product stewardship

PGMs play an important role in medical, industrial and emissions reduction applications due to their robust catalytic and electrical properties. These metals are considered green metals for their ability to clean polluted air, particularly in their role in catalytic converters used in the automotive industry. PGMs have long life cycles, are highly recyclable, and are cornerstone metals in a circular economy.

Used with internal combustion engines, autocatalysts reduce harmful hydrocarbons such as Nitrous Oxide and Mono-oxides by converting them into CO2. While CO2 is a GHG, in combination with improvements in engine management systems, autocatalysts are becoming increasingly efficient at reducing the amount of CO2 produced in this process.

Platinum plays a crucial role in hydrogen fuel cells, which offer a clean, efficient and scalable alternative to conventional combustion engines and stationary power systems. The Chinese government recently announced their intent to move away from fossil fuels for stationary power production and vehicles, a development that could hold great potential for fuel cells.

PGMs play an important social role through their contribution to the wealth and wellbeing of South Africa, through taxes and royalties paid, as well as through their role as providers of jobs and significant investors in the socio-economic development of surrounding communities.

Supporting the development of PGM applications

Lonmin facilitates uptake of PGMs by supporting developments in jewellery, investment and automotive applications, while giving particular support to new industries such as fuel cell adoption and additive manufacturing of PGM-based products. We increased our support of the SEDA Platinum Incubator (SPI) in South Africa, which expanded its focus beyond jewellery to include industrial applications. Lonmin participates in a number of industry associations that support the development of new jewellery markets and applications for PGMs, including the World Platinum Investment Counsel, the Platinum Jewellery Development Association and the Platinum Guild International. Lonmin is actively involved in the development of PGM powders for use in 3D-printing applications. As platinum is a difficult metal to work with, 3D printing creates opportunities to develop innovative applications for the metals.

During the 2017 financial year, Lonmin concluded an agreement with Thakadu Battery Materials for Thakadu to beneficiate Lonmin’s crude nickel sulphate stream into high-purity battery-grade nickel sulphate. High-purity nickel sulphate is a key component in the manufacture of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in stationary energy storage, consumer electronics and electric vehicles.

Product stewardship

We acknowledge our responsibility to manage and mitigate any negative impacts on the environment or end users through the life cycle of our products. Lonmin Sustainable Development Standard 12 relates to product stewardship and promotes the responsible production, transport, storage, use, recycling and disposal of our resources, materials, products and wastes to minimise their life cycle impacts.

Lonmin participates in industry forums, such as the Chamber of Mines and the ICMM, which keep us informed on the latest insights regarding the properties of metals and their life cycle effects on human health and the environment.