Integrated Annual Report 2014

Natural capital

Air quality

Our approach to air quality management is to control dust at source with extraction and filtration systems as well as dust suppression, including water sprays. Air quality is also affected by emissions from certain processes, identified by the Department of Environmental Affairs on a list of activities that require monitoring. Sibanye’s listed activities include the metallurgical smelting process, lead processes in the assay laboratories and waste incinerators at sewage works. In order to manage these processes, stack emissions of the discharges have been conducted. Stack emissions are conducted by isokinetic sampling. Isokinetic sampling collects particles in a stream moving at the same velocity in the sampling device as it does in the stream being sampled. This increases the accuracy and reliability of results, and allows the sample stream to enter without changing speed so that the risk of concentrating larger or smaller particles is reduced on site during the operations. The sample is then analysed at a laboratory to determine the composition and concentration of the emission gases and particulate matter. Results from the stack emissions have been used in impact assessments. The outcome of the impact assessment identified the sewage waste incineration processes as a potential area for improvement. Options for improvement are under investigation.

Complaints recorded in 2014 included the following:

  • Beatrix received one complaint about dust by a farmer residing approximately 1.2km northwest of a dormant tailings dam on the mine. Although the dust was not blown towards his residence, there was visible dust along the public road leading to and from the property. The prevailing conditions at the time were very windy and the wind direction was north-easterly. The farmer accepted this explanation.
  • The Merafong City Local Municipality lodged a complaint against Driefontein for excessive dust emanating from the area around the Driefontein No 2 and 3 gold plants. The complaint was lodged at the West Rand District Municipality Forum meeting on 18 September 2014. An urgent investigation was conducted and it was found that, during the windy season, dust was liberated from the gravel roads and rock transfer systems. Additional measures were instituted for more frequent watering down as a more effective method of dust suppression. The matter was resolved and the complainant was informed on the following day.
  • Higher than normal dustfall levels were recorded south of Kloof at Bekkersdal. The Venterspost tailings facility to the northwest was identified as a potential dust source. Dustfall from this facility for the same period, recorded by the dust bucket south of the tailings facility at the Venterspost Primary School, was less than 600mg/m²/day. This suggests other sources may be contributing to dustfall at Bekkersdal. The dustfall buckets at the Cooke operations – located to the north, east and south of Bekkersdal, also recorded dust levels of less than 600mg/ m²/day over the same period. This suggests that a localised event may be contributing to the dustfall at Bekkersdal. An investigation in conjunction with the West Rand District Municipality was conducted and revealed that ground preparation and erection of a new prefabricated building and cleaning of the roads in the area at that time may have contributed to the higher than normal dustfall.

All of our operations have submitted applications for atmospheric emissions licences in terms of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 2004 (Act No 39 of 2004) (Air Quality Act).

Kloof, Driefontein, Beatrix and Burnstone have provisional atmospheric emissions licences. A site inspection by the Lejweleputswa District Municipality at Beatrix, as part of the process to convert the provisional atmospheric emissions licence to a permanent atmospheric emissions licence is scheduled for 2015.

The West Rand District Municipality is still processing the application for Cooke 4.

Cooke 1, 2 and 3 do not require an atmospheric emissions licence as smelting and incineration are not undertaken at those operations. Concentrate is sent to Rand Refinery for smelting.

The promulgated national dustfall regulations, as listed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International D1739, are used as a reference method and multi-directional buckets were used to collect dust throughout 2014. The multi-directional buckets have been successful in determining the potential contributing sources of dust in assessing the effectiveness of controls and in response to complaints. Wind direction provides information of potential sources that may be contributing to dustfall at a particular point. Discussions with the authorities have been positive and a process to determine equivalence between the ASTM method and the multidirectional buckets began in 2014.

Sibanye complies with the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act. The legislated air quality standards in terms of the Air Quality Act take precedence over SANS standards. The DEA has published draft regulations on the compilation of pollution prevention plans and atmospheric emission reporting, as well as a discussion paper on the development of desired emission reduction outcomes for sectors and sub-sectors of the economy. Companies, like Sibanye, emitting more than 100,000t CO2e per annum may be required to submit five-year pollution prevention plans to the DEA. In addition, these companies may be allocated carbon budgets, which would need to be managed in order to achieve the desired emission reduction outcomes.