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Rewarding an effective environmental management system
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13th June 2008
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Late last year, the second annual Nedbank Capital Green Mining Awards honoured platinum-mining giant Anglo Platinum’s Amandelbult platinum mine for its efforts in environmental and social responsibility and sustainability. Amandelbult’s environmental management system (EMS) was recognised for the positive impact it had on the mine and the surrounding community.

Implemented in 2000, the sustainable EMS seeks to continually improve on the mine’s environmental risk identification and impact management.

The initiative, although in line with ISO 14001: 2004, reaches beyond mere compliance. The EMS has been integrated into the entire operation and has been extended to benefit the communities beyond the mine boundaries, resulting in sustainable practices both at the mine and in the community.

The international standard for EMS is based on three key principles, namely the prevention of pollution, compliance with relevant environmental law and continual improvement in performance. Achieving and maintaining ISO 14001 certification of an EMS demonstrates a company’s commitment to manage environmental risks and impacts. The certification does not mean that there will be no environmental risks or impacts, but rather that appropriate management systems will be put in place to ensure compliance with requirements.

Some positive elements of the EMS at Amandelbult include the effective education of employees, contractors and local school learners. An effective two-day environmental course has been developed in order to make the mine’s and contractors’ supervisory personnel aware of the environment, the EMS and the various responsibilities they each have within the system. Awareness and developments are continuously communicated to employees and contractors in meetings, monthly themes, daily news bulletins and news flashes.

Meanwhile, learners and parents in the surrounding communities have participated in clean-up programmes and have been made aware of the environment and what threatens it, as well as waste management, recycling and reuse of resources.

Environmental and species protection elements have ensured that extensive recycling and preservation take place in and around the mine. Amandelbult’s on-site domestic and industrial landfill sites were closed and rehabilitated, and were replaced by a system where domestic waste is disposed of at a legal landfill site in Thabazimbi. As much waste as possible is recycled and reused, such as paper, wood, scrap metal and even gumboots, through the use of colour-coded bins and a container coding system.

A reverse osmosis water treatment plant has been successfully implemented to treat some four-million litres of excess water daily that is to be reused as potable water.

New oil stores, paint stores, wash bays, spillage kits, concrete slabs, bund walls and sumps have been installed as part of the hydrocarbon reduction project. Shelters have been constructed to keep rainwater out of contaminated areas, such as wash bays and oil stores.

Some areas where past oil, diesel and grease spillages have occurred have been cleaned up and the soil remediated. Between 2004 and 2006, 267 400 ℓ of oil was recycled.

An additional 3 000 ha has been fenced off for the protection and nurturing of species endemic to the region. In this area, a white rhino calf was born in 2006 and a rare bird species, the yellow-throated sandgrouse, has been spotted repeatedly. A contractor has been employed to assist with the general management of the game parks and a significant number of invader flora species have been removed from the property. Extra funds are generated by foreign hunters, who visit the game park as part of the necessary annual culling programme.

Anglo Platinum says that the business case for managing biodiversity, based on the risks or opportunities that biodiversity poses to the operation, has not been evaluated or clearly defined and, therefore, not adequately linked to managerial decision-making. The nature reserve areas that have been set aside offer a good opportunity for biodiversity conservation and will be the key objective of the mine’s closure strategy. However, this needs to be given careful consideration and incorporated into a formal mine closure plan.

Edited by: Esmarie Swanepoel


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3000 ha have been closed off as a nature reserve

AMANDELBULT SECTION 3000 ha have been closed off as a nature reserve