Summary of findings and company response
Anglo American describes its “environmental vision” as follows:
The Anglo American Environmental Vision is to minimise harm to the environment by designing, operating and closing all of our operations in an environmentally responsible manner.
We believe that robust management of environmental issues is a fundamental element of good overall operational management, and a source of competitive advantage. Poor management of environmental issues is inconsistent with Anglo American’s values and long-term business interests.1
Given the size and scope of its operations, and the environmental impact of those operations. Anglo American provides surprisingly little data on environmental non-compliances and incidents to its shareholders. No information is provided at all about compliance inspections by regulatory authorities. What little information is provided raises serious concerns, in particular in relation to unauthorised water discharges and other water contamination.
The Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Water and Sanitation are responsible for compliance monitoring and enforcement of environmental and water laws by mining companies. Thus far, unlike the Department of Environmental Affairs, neither department has published any information on its compliance monitoring and enforcement action. Both Departments however, in answers to Parliamentary Questions, insist that many inspections take place, many directives and compliance notices are issued, and many criminal prosecutions are instituted.
The fact that the Departments charged with regulating the mining sector do not publicise non-compliance findings or enforcement action means that it is impossible to know whether or not the level of disclosure on environmental non-compliances by mining companies in their annual reports is accurate or complete.
Anglo American’s Group Head of Safety and Sustainability, Dave Morris, in his response to Full Disclosure, provided clarification in relation to the classification of a tailings dam incident flagged in Full Disclosure, as well as useful comments on a number of the issues raised in the Environmental Impacts reported by affected communities, the media & NGOs section of the report. Mr Morris also acknowledged that the geographic location of environmental incidents is not always clear from the company’s reports, and stated that “this will be taken into consideration during the preparation of future reports”.
- The Anglo Environmental Way at p5, available at http://angloamerican.com/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-PLC-V2/documents/approach-and-policies/environment/environmentway-v1.pdf