Summary of findings and company response
DRD published the following statement as part of its 2014 Sustainable Development Policy:
DRDGOLD shall endorse and actively pursue best practical environmental practice for each activity that may potentially negatively affect the environment and concerned communities and shall continuously evaluate, through a process of monitoring and management review, the success of the management and mitigation measures applied.1
Full Disclosure reveals that DRD operations appear to be frequently in breach of environmental laws and permits, in particular in relation to:
- Spills and water pollution caused by burst pipes and breaches and overflows of tailings dams;
- Exceedences of permitted dust emissions;
- Conducting operations without water use licences; and
- Failures to rehabilitate environmental damage in accordance with DRD’s legal obligations.
DRD is also the subject of multiple complaints and legal proceedings instituted by communities living in the vicinity of the company’s operations, as described in the Environmental non-compliances reported by affected communities, the media & NGOs section of this report.
DRD’s company reports contain no information on environmental compliance inspections, other than one reference in the 2014 Integrated Report to an audit carried out by the Department of Water and Sanitation in June 2014, at which, DRD states, “minor findings were established”. Considering the multiple problems with spillages and water pollution referred to by DRD in its company reports, it is reasonable to assume that DRD’s shareholders would be interested in the details of the findings by the Department, but no further information is provided.
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 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.
In his response to Full Disclosure, Niël Pretorius, DRD’s CEO, stated that he would not comment on excerpts from the company’s reports prior to 2013 as he had “not verified whether these are correct or quoted in the proper context”.
Mr Pretorius stated that the Minister of Water and Sanitation’s response to Parliamentary Questions, to the effect that some DRD operations do not have water use licences, is incorrect.
Mr Pretorius vehemently disputed the contents of an article on acid mine drainage published in The Star. However no such article is referenced in Full Disclosure.
Mr Pretorius disputes the claims made in various media reports and by the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, stating that he cannot comment further on this issue as “it has now become the subject of legal proceedings”.
Mr Pretorius extends invitations to the CER to attend a “demonstration of our environmental management system and protocols” via a “fully interactive web-based system with real time updates”, and also to conduct a site visit at DRD operations.
- DRDGold Sustainability Policy 2014, available at http://www.drd.co.za/sustainability/DRDGOLD-sustainable-policy-2014.pdf