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AECI Limited's disclosure of environmental non-compliances in annual reports

2009 company reports

In 2009, “incidents of significance” reported by the company included the following:

  • the spillage of 3 tonnes of base emulsion and 300 kg of ammonium nitrate due to the overturning of a mobile manufacturing unit;
  • the leakage of 1000 litres of oil into a dam;
  • a spillage of nitric acid into a storm water system; and
  • a spillage of 2.5 tonnes of chemical products on a national highway resulting in the temporary closure of the road.1
2010 company reports

In 2010 the company reported 10 environmental incidents. These included the following incidents in South Africa:

  • the temporary closure of the N2 highway due to the clean-up of a sulphuric acid spillage;
  • spillage of 5 tonnes of emulsion on the side of a road near East London;
  • a chemical spill due to a road accident in the Western Cape; and
  • 5 tonnes of chemicals spilled on and next to the N2 highway.2
  • In 2010 it was also reported that the company was not in compliance with the “emission limits specified in the Draft Water Use Licence for its Modderfontein site”.3 In 2011 it was reported that a new licence had been issued and had “stringent conditions” which the company was unable to meet “in the short term”.4 Further developments in relation to non-compliance with this licence are detailed below under ‘2014 company reports’.
2011 company reports

In 2011 the company reported six significant environmental incidents. The following occurred in South Africa:

  • contaminated water was released into the Umbogintwini Industrial Complex’s storm water system;
  • a contractor suffered a heart attack when driving and the vehicle went into the Orange River;
  • at Modderfontein 10 tonnes of nitric acid overflowed from a tank;
  • also at Modderfontein 1.5 tonnes of nitric acid was spilled; and
  • one tonne of product spilled following a vehicle collision near Rustenburg.5
2012 company reports

In 2012 there were no serious or major environmental incidents reported.6

2013 company reports

In 2013 no serious environmental incidents were reported to have occurred in South Africa.7

2014 company reports

In 2014 no serious environmental incidents were reported to have occurred in South Africa.8 However, it was reported in the 2014 Annual Report that the Water Use Licence issued by the Department of Water Affairs in 2011 for AECI’s operations at the Modderfontein site (which had previously been operating under a draft Water Use Licence) contained stringent conditions which “the site was not immediately able to comply with” (mentioned above under ‘2010 company reports’). Therefore in 2012 a number of projects were commissioned “to improve the level of compliance with licence conditions”. It was reported that the projects had been completed and in 2014 “approval was negotiated for most of the amendments to the licence. Negotiations with the relevant current authority, namely the Department of Water and Sanitation, on this matter continue in a spirit of cooperation to finalise the situation in a mutually satisfactory manner.”9

It was also reported that an application had been made by AEL Mining, one of the AECI group of companies, for a postponement of compliance with the 2015 minimum emission standards.10 These standards, which came into effect in April 2015, impose stricter limits on toxic emissions than were previously allowed.

The CER has recently ascertained further details on this application. AECI appears to have submitted its application for postponement on 31 March 2015, almost a year after the deadline for doing so (31 March 2014) had expired. In its application, AEL Mining seeks to postpone compliance with the 2015 standards for oxides of nitrogen, ammonia and for particulate matter for various of its plants for 5 years.11 SRK Consulting (Pty) Limited, the environmental assessment practitioner for this postponement application, advised the CER on 3 September 2015 that a decision on the application had not yet been made by the National Air Quality Officer.

  1. AECI Annual Report 2009 at p86, available at
  2. AECI Annual Report 2010 at p111, available at
  3. AECI Annual Report 2010 at p137, available at
  4. AECI Annual Report 2011 at p38, available at
  5. AECI Annual Report 2011 at p106, available at
  6. AECI Annual Report 2012 at p92, available at
  7. AECI Annual Report 2013 at p42, available at
  8. AECI Annual Report 2014 at p61, available at
  9. AECI Annual Report 2014 at p61, available at
  10. AECI Annual Report 2014 at p61, available at (last accessed on 7 August 2015).
  11. Final Motivation Report: Application for Postponement of Compliance Timeframes in terms of Regulation 11 of the Section 21 National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act 39 of 2004 Minimum Emissions Standards for specific operations of the AEL Mining Services Plant in Modderfontein, at pii, available at