Integrated Annual Report 2014

Natural capital


Water is a critical resource and we consider our water infrastructure to be a strategic asset. Effective and integrated management of water resources and systems is an integral component of our business strategy. Our vision for water management could be described as “effective, innovative and caring for water resources and water systems management”.


Total water withdrawal was 116,851Ml (2013: 76,636Ml) in 2014 with 16,738Ml or 14.32% (2013: 12,410Ml or 16.19%) from municipal sources (potable water) and 100,112Ml (2013: 64,227Ml) from ground fissure sources.

The reason for the increase year on year is due to of the inclusion of the Cooke operations in 2014.

The bulk of fissure water is withdrawn at source for safety reasons and it is discharged into the environment without treatment. Uncontaminated fissure water, which has not entered the mine workings, does not pose an environmental risk. Impacted fissure water is used in the operations to compensate for system shortfalls. By using the impacted fissure water make-up, the total discharge load is reduced and contaminants are entrapped in the various tailings storage facilities (TSFs). We use recirculating mine service water extensively in our surface and underground operations. By operating the systems in this manner, we ensure that none of this water is discharged but is reused to improve water efficiency.

In addition, we have invested in potable water-treatment plants to produce potable water from excess fissure water, and thus reduce our overall water footprint and total cost of potable water.

Water use licence status
  Beatrix Ezulwini (Cooke 4) Rand Uranium
(Cooke 1, 2 and 3)
Driefontein Kloof
Permit/exempt in terms of the Water Act, 1956 (Act No 54 of 1956) Yes Yes
Water use licence in terms of the National Water Act, 1998 (Act No 36 of 1998) Yes Yes Yes and directive
Water use licence application Submitted Submitted Submitted for backfill project Applied for amendment Applied for amendment
Draft water use licence Yes Yes
Bottleneck Regional office of Department of Water and Sanitation/ Sibanye’s Water Management Department National Department of Water and Sanitation National Department of Water and Sanitation Regional office of Department of Water and Sanitation/ Sibanye’s Water Management Department Regional office of Department of Water and Sanitation
Explanation Awaiting feedback from regional Department of Water and Sanitation Recommendation submitted to the Department of Water and Sanitation adjudication committee Backlog at Department of Water and Sanitation Awaiting feedback from regional Department of Water and Sanitation Department of Water and Sanitation evaluating additional information submitted
Risk/reward No No No No/savings No/savings
Way forward Enquire about progress Awaiting water use licence Apply for amendment of water use licence

Enquire about progress with backfill water use licence
Enquire about progress Awaiting feedback from regional Department of Water and Sanitation
Operating legally Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Total water withdrawal per operation (Ml)
Total potable water consumption (Ml)
  2014 2013 2012
Beatrix** 3,193 3,403 3,482
Cooke* 5,118
Driefontein* 2,260 3,039 3,520
Kloof* 6,167 5,967 5,851
  • *  Rand Water
  • ** Sedibeng Water


Optimisation includes the establishment of a three-tier water balance system, which is updated regularly, to allow our operations to track water consumption at shaft level. A project is underway to establish detailed water balances at all operations by mid-2015. An annual water balance is prepared and submitted to the Department of Water and Sanitation as a requirement of our water use licences.

Underground settlers are the first line defence in heavy metal removal and improving the quality of the underground circulating water systems. In 2014, we focused primarily on improving the operational efficiency of our settlers and optimising underground water systems to improve the quality of discharged underground water.

  • Acid mine drainage (AMD), if managed as proposed, will not develop into a material risk in the Far West Rand Basin
  • Relatively low volumes of mine water are expected to decant and the environmental impacts will be manageable
  • Urban development and other polluters contribute to the salt load and will exceed mining impact after closure



    The Beatrix operation pumps 24Ml/day of fissure water from a connate saline aquifer. This water is deposited in evaporation ponds, and evaporated in terms of valid permits and exemptions.

    Potable water used at Beatrix is supplied by Sedibeng Water, which supplies water to the Free State, Northern Cape and North West provinces. The potable water supplied to Sibanye operations by local bulk water supply utilities, based on long-term stable relationships with the local authorities. The risk of supply interruptions is the same as that of the local towns, including infrastructure and power failure, maintenance interruptions and possible disconnection due to payment issues. All the operations have limited local storage to sustain them for a couple of hours. An extended power outage may result in no water for domestic use while the operations are able to continue by reverting to process water sources.


    The Cooke operations dewater 107Ml/day of fissure water for safety reasons. This fissure water is pumped from Cooke 1 (20Ml/day), Cooke 2 (12Ml/day) and Cooke 4 (75Ml/day) – and discharged under licence into the Wonderfonteinspruit, Magazine Pan and Klein Wes Rietspruit.

    Cooke 1 shaft uses its own boreholes for potable water while Cooke 2, 3 and 4 are served by the Westonaria Local Municipality.


    The Driefontein 8 and 10 shafts are water-positive due to 56Ml/day of fissure water inflow from dolomitic compartments. The shafts are dewatered for safety reasons. Up to 20Ml/day of the fissure water is treated to make it potable. The balance is discharged under licence into the Wonderfonteinspruit.

    Driefontein has a treatment facility to produce potable water for its own use. Clean fissure water is blended with potable water from the Merafong City Local Municipality. An upgrade is due to be completed in 2015 to eliminate potable water purchased from the municipality.


    The Kloof 8 and 10 shafts are water-positive due to 55Ml/day of fissure water inflow from dolomitic compartments. The shafts are dewatered for safety reasons and discharged under licence into the Wonderfonteinspruit and Loopspruit. The rest of the Kloof shafts are all slightly water-negative and use impacted fissure water for controlled make-up.

    Potable water is supplied to Kloof by the Westonaria Local Municipality via three supply points. A 12Ml/day potable water treatment plant is planned to offset potable water purchased from the municipality.


Our integrated dynamic water management strategic process, developed by our Water Management Department to guide the implementation of our Water Management Policy through life of mine and beyond mine closure, SibanyeAMANZI is reviewed every year.

SibanyeAMANZI evolved from the Liquid Gold project initiated by Gold Fields in 2005. In order to achieve compliant discharges from the Driefontein, Kloof and South Deep mines owned by Gold Fields at the time, the initial aim of the Liquid Gold project was to develop “end of pipe water treatment solutions” to treat 120Ml/day of surplus fissure and mineralised mine service water, and to purify it to drinking water standards.

A water technology innovation hub, established at Sibanye’s Libanon workshops, supported by the Driefontein Mine Water Laboratory where an upgraded facility is being established at 9 shaft, includes research and development, and testing equipment. The technology innovation hub comprises simulated moving bed ion exchange, membrane purification, various forms of demineralisation equipment, and bench scale coagulation and flocculation equipment. This technology enables the recovery of uranium, rare earths and other valuable metals, as well as the conversion of contaminated salts into commercial commodities such as fertilizers and explosives.

Our SibanyeAmanzi strategy is realised through the following ongoing and proposed projects:

    • Regular theft and vandalism of the electricity and pump infrastructure of the 4 shaft seepage collection pump stations rendered it non-operational. Mobile diesel pumps were used for months until electricity supply infrastructure could be secured and pumps were reinstated. Importantly, no spills occurred during this period.
    • Optimisation of the underground settlers is underway at Cooke 1 and 2 to improve the quality of the water discharged into the environment, and thus reduce the extent of the water treatment required in future.
    • In 2014, a project was initiated to optimise the underground water management systems to realise a reduction in fissure water ingress, improved fissure water separation and to reduce the total quantity of water pumped.
    • Upgrading and recommissioning of the North Shaft fissure water treatment plant to produce 9Ml/day of SANS 241-2011 compliant product water – to a standard of potable water suitable for human consumption – entails replacing and upgrading certain components of the existing plant and adding additional components.
    • Separation of 8.6Ml/day of mine service water from 25Ml/day fissure water underground in order to improve compliance is underway. The separation is a licence requirement and will improve the quality of the water we are discharging into the environment. It will be done by recirculating the water underground for reuse.
    • Separation of fissure water and mine service water at 8 shaft will be done as a licence requirement, and will improve the quality of the water we are discharging into the environment with a cost reduction benefit for the shaft. A dedicated dam and pump station will be built to collect and pump the fissure water.
    • To establish a 12Ml/day fissure water beneficiation plant at the 8 shaft and thus realise water savings and reduce our environmental footprint, we plan to build a water treatment facility that will produce potable water from excess fissure water for consumption on the mine.
    • We plan to eliminate mine service water excess at the main shaft by reducing its footprint through improved system controls and management.