Integrated Annual Report 2014

Natural capital

Environmental incidents

In 2014, we reported nine (2013: one) Level 3 environmental incidents. There were three Level 3 incidents at Cooke and six Level 3 incidents at Kloof and Driefontein. There were no Level 4 and 5 incidents reported for the period under review.

We report on:

  • Level 3 – incidents that result in ongoing but limited environmental impact;
  • Level 4 – incidents that result in medium-term environmental impact; and
  • Level 5 – incidents that result in long-term environmental impact.

In terms of our Engineering Pragma System, which enables timeous reporting and maintenance of pipeline failure incidents, conducting thickness testing on the pipeline, installation of flow meters and daily inspection of pipes by pipe-walkers, all pipes not worn out were turned by 180 degrees to prevent failure. As part of this planned maintenance system, ongoing testing of pipe thickness is conducted and worn pipes are identified.

Level 3 incident report
Date Level Operation Cause Volume(m³)/Area impacted (m²) Material Impact Remediation
25 February 20143KloofPipeline burst300,000m³TailingsSoil, vegetation and river contaminatedPolluted area cleaned and rehabilitated with new pipeline
26 February 20143DriefonteinReturn water dams overflowed0.25MlProcess water dischargeImpact on surface waterPumping of water from return water dams optimised
31 March 20143KloofCyanide storage tank pipes burst400m³CyanideSoil and vegetation contaminatedPolluted area cleaned and rehabilitated with new alarm system
1 May 20143KloofWater pollution control dam overflowed at plant due to accumulation of sediments50,000m³Process waterImpact on surface waterDam cleaned regularly to remove sediments
17 October 20143DriefonteinTailings spill40m³TailingsSoil contaminatedLeak isolated and tailings cleaned up
28 November 20143DriefonteinReturn water dams overtopped0.25MlProcess water dischargeImpact on surface waterPumping and reuse of water from return water dams optimised
25 February 20143Cooke 1 shaftA leak developed in the pipeline conveying sludge from Cooke 1 shaft to Cooke plant, resulting in a spill of underground sludge onto adjacent land and water body800m²Underground sludgeA small quantity of material enter the Wonderfonteinspruit but water sampling at time of incident indicated no significant impact on water bodyThe leaking pipe was immediately clamped once the spill was reported and subsequently replaced. Clean up of the affected land started on same day as incident, and was complete within two weeks
23 May 20143Cooke 1 and 2 shaftsLicensed discharge water quality outside water use license specificationCooke 1 shaft: 20,300m³;
Cooke 2 shaft: 12,300m³
Excess water found undergroundImpact on both surface and groundwaterOptimisation of underground water treatment and underground settler repair and refurbishment
18 August 20143Cooke 4 plantReturn water dam oveflow as a result of an operating error5,500m³Process waterWater spilled onto gravel road and adjacent farming land. No impact on surface or groundwater resources, based on water quality, the impact on the farming land was deemed to be minimalThe valve feeding the return water dam was closed immediately and pumping commenced and the plant operator retrained in dam operating procedures