Integrated Annual Report 2014

Natural capital

Permitting and compliance

We manage our environmental aspects and impacts through our environmental strategy, as well as supporting management systems and an environmental management framework. This includes, among others, a system for identifying aspects and impacts, EMPs designed to mitigate and manage these impacts, and auditing and continuous improvement as critical elements.

Over the years, Sibanye’s environmental management system has matured to such an extent that environmental management has been integrated into the business, and into operational plans. As the Sibanye operating model advocates internal efficiencies, we decided that no further value could be derived from ISO 14001 certification and that resources would be put to better use in strengthening in-house capacity to implement environmental management systems. The Cooke and Burnstone operations need to be integrated into the system. Both operations have systems in place to manage environmental aspects and impacts, and these systems are aligned with the Sibanye’s environmental management strategy.

Review cycles (actions and interventions that address the efficacy of the respective management systems and sub-systems) include, inter alia, monthly site inspections, quarterly audits of environmental management systems, internal audits as per the schedule determined by the Audit Committee, external audits and verifications by independent external auditors, annual closure liability assessments by an independent third party, and annual site inspections by the Department of Mineral Resources.

We continue to improve our knowledge of our current biodiversity status by implementing biodiversity management action plans. Biodiversity assessments of the Kloof and Cooke (Ezulwini) operations were finalised in 2014.

We remain committed to designing and developing appropriate post-mining land uses in consultation with host communities and government. The closer we get to closure, the more detailed are our plans, and these closure plans are not shaft-based but mine-based.

Public meetings held during the development of biodiversity management action plans in 2014 will inform discussions with stakeholders going forward, including local municipalities, regulatory bodies and neighbouring communities.

Our Internal Audit Department played an increasingly important role in providing management assurance on the adequacy, effectiveness and suitability of our environmental management systems.

This in-house management assurance is conveyed directly to our Board and management.

An internal audit of the environmental management system and its sub-systems is planned for 2015. Internal controls were consolidated and strengthened in 2014 when Sibanye’s Internal Audit team focused on certain elements of the environmental management systems, such as waste management, incident management, water management, chemical handling and a compliance audit in terms of the Mining Charter, including elements of the environmental management plans/programmes.

In addition to regulatory reporting processes, a legal register, management code of practice and sustainable development assurance processes, Internal Audit monitors environmental legal compliance, external environmental management plan/programme performance assessments of all operations, excluding Cooke 1, 2 and 3. The assessments of these Cooke operations are due in 2015.

Advocacy and stakeholder engagement are important elements in ensuring that Sibanye, at Group and operational level, is aware of legislative changes and can apply legislation appropriately. The legal implications for the mining industry and operational compliance aspects are discussed within the forum provided by the Chamber of Mines Environmental Policy Committee (EPC). Members of the Environmental Policy Committee are informed of impending legislative changes and the implications, and this effectively promotes compliance. In addition, there is an internal process of highlighting legislative changes in all spheres of our business, including environmental management, and action plans are put in place to address shortcomings from a compliance perspective.

Site inspections are done on an ad hoc, weekly or monthly basis, and are issues-based. Quarterly audits are conducted to ascertain compliance with our Environmental Policy, as well as other environmental and operating procedures in place to manage environmental aspects and impacts.

Each operation kept a register of compliance with all applicable environmental regulations in 2014.

We strive to manage risk effectively in order to protect the environment.

Each Sibanye operation has an approved EMP, compiled by the holder of the mining right and approved by the Department of Mineral Resources in compliance with the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act, as amended. An environmental management plan/programme is a formal contract between the mine (the holder of the mining right) and the regulator (the Department of Mineral Resources) regarding the impacts that may arise from the mining operations, the assessment of these impacts from a risk perspective, the proposed measures to mitigate the impacts and commitments or undertaking by the licence holder to implement these mitigation measures.

Environmental management performance assessment reports
Operation External/Internal* Next round Non-compliance Mitigation
BeatrixFebruary 2014February 2016Incomplete tailings storage facility cover design studyCover design study scheduled for completion in 2015
No formal erosion monitoring and management study inclusive of a rehabilitation strategy for the decommissioning phaseCompile erosion monitoring and management study as part of long-term land use plan
No formal schedule for damaged walls and spillwaysCompile monitory plan
Cooke 1, 2 and 3October 2013October 2015N/A**N/A**
Cooke 4April 2014April 2016Discharge of approximately 70Ml/day of water under old order water permit (quality and volume outside of specification)Separation of dolomite and process water underground to be pursued in 2015
DriefonteinFebruary 2014February 2016No aspect of soil management included in environmental induction moduleIncluded soil management aspects in environmental induction module by December 2014
KloofFebruary 2014February 2016No aspect of soil management included in environmental induction moduleIncluded soil management aspects in environmental induction module by December 2014
   No noise assessment completedNoise study finalised by end of 2014
   No land capability studyComplete land capability study by end June 2015
Surface operationsOctober 2013October 2015N/A**N/A**
  • *Environmental management performance assessment reports are compiled by an independent third party (external) and in-house by Sibanye (internal), and submitted to the respective regional offices of the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) in compliance with the legislated conditions for approval, every two years.
  • **No environmental management performance assessments were conducted during 2014 for Cooke 1,2 and 3, and surface operations as these assets were only acquired in March 2014.

The environmental management plan/programme of a mining right holder is generally seen as one of three supporting pillars of the mining right (the other two are the social and labour plan and the Mine Works Programme).

The environmental management plan/programme for each operation deals with environmental aspects pertaining to the mining operation, ore handling and transportation, metallurgical processing and gold extraction, and deposition of residue material from the extracting process (commonly referred to as tailings material) on specifically designed and operated tailings storage facilities (TSFs). These processes have an impact on water, air quality, land, waste and resources, among others. Mitigation and management measures for these respective environmental impacts are also contained in, and form the crux of, the environmental management plan/programme document.

The operations are responsible for day-to-day management and reporting of environmental issues at shafts and plants in terms of the Environmental Policy and the designated environmental management system, while the Environmental Department provides overall assistance to resolve any environmental issues at the operations with strategic direction on the implementation of the environmental strategy. The Environmental Department is also responsible for conducting regular site inspections and quarterly environmental management system audits with a view to providing assurance to site and senior/executive management that environmental issues are managed appropriately.

An atmospheric emissions licence (AEL) application for Cook 4 was submitted in 2014, as well as additional information on the atmospheric emissions licence applications for Kloof, Beatrix and Driefontein. All three operations have since received provisional atmospheric emissions licences, and systems and processes, such as stack monitoring, are being established to ensure compliance with the conditions of these atmospheric emissions licences. Cooke awaits its atmospheric emissions licence.

An environmental impact assessment for the relocation of the assay laboratory and a public notification process began in 2014. Processes for the new site were reviewed and revised, including hazardous substance volumes below the threshold for listed activities that require an environmental impact assessment. Listed activities were not triggered, the application was withdrawn in September 2014.

The record of decision for the environmental impact assessment regulations applicable to the Beatrix 4 shaft methane destruction project culminated in approval of the amendment to the environmental management plan/programme report, which was then approved by the Free State Department of Mineral Resources in May 2014.

Environmental licensing processes, initiated in 2013, for waste management were pursued and finalised in 2014. A gap analysis was completed in 2014 to determine our status in terms of licence requirements at the Kloof, Driefontein and Beatrix operations. Due to changes in legislation, activities were revisited to ensure that applications were made for all activities. Sibanye began the licensing process at the end of 2014 for finalisation in 2015. We will attend to the Cooke and Burnstone operations in 2015.


Amendments to waste legislation present a potentially negative impact on Sibanye’s operations and projects. Under the National Environmental Management: Waste Amendment Act, 2014 (Act No 26 of 2014), which was promulgated on 2 June 2014, mine “residue deposits” and “residue stockpiles” are now managed under the National Environmental Management Act legislative regime. The implications include the need for waste classification and liners under the tailings storage facilities, which could have major financial implications for new tailings storage facility capital projects in particular.

As far as the greater mining industry is concerned, mining-related waste material and mining residues are governed by the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act, particularly the requirements of Section 42 and Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act regulations 63, 69 and 73, as well as the environmental management plan/programme provisions, until those duplicate provisions in the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act have been repealed. The process to enhance National Environmental Management Act legislation and to align it with the provisions of Waste Amendment Act has begun. The Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act amendment process has not yet been completed and will continue in 2015.

This process was not completed in 2014 and will continue in 2015.

Through industry organisations such as the Chamber of Mines and Business Unity South Africa, we are monitoring developments in this regard.

Through the Chamber of Mines, a meeting was held with the Department of Environmental Affairs as the regulator responsible for administering the Waste Amendment Act and its specific provisions regarding residue stockpiles and deposits in an effort to influence the final regulations. Throughout 2014 there were multiple meetings between the various stakeholders on this issue. This has now culminated in the publication of a draft list of exclusions on waste management activities. Sibanye will participate in the public commenting process.



    Ridge ploughing, using a tractor and conventional plough to create ridges perpendicular to the prevailing wind direction and thus create wind barriers, was due to be done on the top surface area of the dormant Beatrix tailings storage facility in 2014 but damage to the penstock and wash-outs on the rest of the dam prevented this from going ahead as planned. This had been done in 2012 to minimise dust released on windy days. We decided instead to build basin paddocks to retain water on the dam and to repair the damaged areas. Ridge ploughing may be used inside the paddocks as an additional measure to minimise wind-blown dust.


    As part of an investigation into an appropriate intervention, a site visit was conducted at Cooke where dust was a challenge but has since been largely overcome. Controls deployed over time have included vegetation, water sprinkler systems, ridge ploughing and dust control nets.


    The Driefontein 1 and 2 tailings storage facilities have been identified as areas that may require additional controls to mitigate dust impacts. Having considered the various options available, dust control nets may be appropriate for these tailings storage facilities as they could be installed relatively quickly and function immediately, and need minimal maintenance. The nets can also be raised or redeployed as the height of the dams increases. Provision has been made for additional dust control in 2015. Depending on the results, this approach may extend to other problematic tailings storage facilities within the Group.


    Inspections of dormant tailings storage facilities in 2014 revealed that the current rate of rise is well within legal requirements and the current deposition facilities can sustain another five years of deposition.