Summary of findings and company response
Merafe has the following environmental policy:
The Venture is committed to identifying, understanding and minimising its impacts throughout the life of its operations and rehabilitating land once its operations have ceased…The Venture focuses on identifying and using opportunities to help protect and improve the environment.1
The only information provided by Merafe in its company reports on environmental incidents is the number of “category 1” and “category 2” incidents in the reporting year, presumably referring to the categorisation of incidents under its Environmental Management System. Each annual report contains only one line on environmental incidents, such as “[i]n 2014 the company reported 111 category 1 incidents and 11 category 2 incidents”. No further information is provided, so it is impossible to ascertain the nature of the incidents.
Merafe also provides no information about compliance inspections at its operations, despite one of the Glencore-Merafe Venture operations featuring repeatedly in the National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Reports due to non-compliance with environmental laws, including operating without a water use licence, exceeding permitted levels of emissions and operating unauthorised waste disposal sites. These inspections are not mentioned. Instead, Merafe states in its annual reports only that the Venture has had no environmental fines, penalties or prosecutions at its operations.
This failure to disclose is further complicated by the fact that 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. This 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.
For more information please see Enforcing the Law: the challenges undermining environmental compliance monitoring and enforcement in South Africa.
The CER wrote to Merafe’s CEO on 22 July 2015, inviting the company to respond to the findings in Full Disclosure by 19 August 2015. No response has been received to date.
- http://www.meraferesources.co.za/inv-environment.php#.VC5opvmSzE4 (last accessed on 7 August 2015).