Summary of findings and company response
Wescoal makes minimal information on environmental compliance and impacts available to its shareholders. It is particularly concerning to note that Wescoal’s 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 annual reports each repeat identical paragraphs on waste management and safety, health and environmental practices. In relation to the latter, all that is said is the following:
Monthly internal audits and reports are undertaken under the SHE system, covering safety, occupational hygiene, occupational health and the environment. Regular external visits and/or audits are conducted by the DMR. Occasionally, the DWS will visit, and sometimes the Department of Environmental Affairs. No reports are written if compliance and administration are adhered to, however, directives are given if non-compliance is discovered.
This kind of “cut and paste” reporting is wholly inadequate for a listed company, the operations of which have significant environmental impacts in an area of South Africa which is already severely compromised by the negative impacts of coal mining. These impacts were demonstrated in the CER’s 2016 report, Zero Hour: Poor governance of mining and the violation of environmental rights in Mpumalanga.1 Wescoal provides no information as to whether “compliance and administration are adhered to”, or whether any non-compliances have been found during these inspections, or any directives have been issued.
Wescoal’s CEO, Mr Waheed Sulaiman, provided a brief response to Full Disclosure. In his response, Mr Sulaiman states that:
With regard to our prior integrated annual reporting on environmental compliance being minimalistic, we acknowledge that environmental reporting could have been more substantive. Our latest integrated annual report was published on 27 September 2016. Wescoal will continue to work towards improving the quality of this document.
Wescoal’s 2016 Integrated Annual Report, published on the same day that the CER wrote to the company for comment on Full Disclosure, once again includes a number of statements regarding environmental management which are made in previous reports, and provides no information in relation to any compliance monitoring inspections conducted by regulatory authorities.
In future, companies like Wescoal will need to disclose far more detailed information about environmental non-compliance, as a result of the inclusion in the King IV Report™ of the following requirement under Principle 13, “Compliance governance”:
Details of monitoring and compliance inspections by environmental regulators, findings of non-compliance with environmental laws, or criminal sanctions and prosecutions for such non-compliance should be disclosed.
- Available at http://cer.org.za/news/zero-hour (last accessed on 7 November 2016).