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Full Disclosure 2016

Anglo American plc's disclosure of environmental non-compliances in annual reports

2016 update

2015 company reports

In relation to environmental incidents, Anglo American’s 2015 Sustainability Report states that six Level 3 (medium impact) environmental incidents occurred during the year.1 The report states that “these incidents resulted in no lasting harm to the environment and had no material financial impact on the business”.2

According to the Sustainability Report, three of the six Level 3 incidents occurred in Australia, one occurred in Brazil, one occurred in Botswana and one occurred in Limpopo, South Africa.

The South African incident reportedly occurred at Kumba Iron Ore’s Thabazimbi mine, where there was a slope wall failure which resulted in the discharge of approximately 250,000m3 of water into the Crocodile River. According to the report, “an impact assessment submitted to the local authority indicated that there was no immediate change to the fish or invertebrate community.”3 The report states that the following remedial action was taken:

The affected stormwater channels were de-silted and a new stormwater-management plan is being developed. Annual bio-monitoring surveys will be conducted to determine if there are any long term effects.4

Anglo American reports that no Level 4 or 5 incidents occurred during 2015.5

In relation to environmental non-compliance and related sanctions, the report states that:

Level 3 incidents resulted in three non-compliance notices and amounted to $5,900 in fines and penalties.6

Anglo American’s Sustainability Report states as follows regarding air quality management in South Africa:

In South Africa, the revised Air Quality Act makes provisions for reduced SO2 levels to be reached in 2015, with further reduction requirements by 2020. Two of Platinum’s three smelters were granted exemption7 from the 2015 limits to allow the business time to design abatement technologies to comply with the more stringent 2020 limits. The ambient air-quality monitoring systems in place at the three smelters are closely managed to record and control the annual number of SO2 exceedances. During the year, all sites continued to meet permissible legislated ambient limits. Platinum’s contribution to the Group SO2 figures is not included in the 2015 reported figures given changes in reporting methodologies to align with the new provisions.8

In relation to Anglo American’s environmental management systems, the report states:

All operations are expected to attain and retain ISO 14001 certification within two years of commissioning or acquisition. At year end, all 38 eligible operating units had achieved certification.9

Anglo American also includes a section in its Sustainability Report on its management of operations in “environmentally sensitive areas.” According to the report, Venetia Mine operated by De Beers is situated in an environmentally sensitive area. Anglo American reports on the area as follows:

Description: Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve established by De Beers in Limpopo Province, South Africa. The Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape was proclaimed as a World Heritage site in 2003, and, in 2009, a revised buffer zone was proclaimed without prior consultation with the mine. This resulted in the mine falling within the buffer zone of the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape.

Response: De Beers operates according to operating conditions agreed with the government, and in 2013, through active engagement with the South African government, De Beers received consent for Venetia’s underground project to proceed. A revised buffer zone that excludes Venetia mine was accepted by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in 2014 and is going through the local legal process. While no mining takes place in the core area, there are shared water resources that are carefully managed by the mine.10

Full Disclosure 2015

The company’s sustainable development reports include data on “environmental incidents” which have occurred throughout the year (throughout Anglo American’s worldwide operations and not just its South African operations). Such incidents are ranked from level 3 (medium environmental impact) to level 5 (high environmental impact).11 Level 1 and 2 incidents are not reported publicly as they are regarded by the company as minor in nature.12 This scale was introduced in 2011. Previously a three tiered scale was used.13

Anglo American’s company reports do not contain any information on compliance monitoring and enforcement action by regulatory authorities.

2009 company reports

In 2009 the company reported 62 Level 2 incidents across the group, 42% of which were water related incidents.14

2010 company reports

In 2010 the company reported 61 Level 2 incidents across the group, including 38 water related incidents. It was reported that these were primarily as a result of high levels of rainfall in Australia and South Africa.15

2011 company reports

In 2011, the company reported 27 Level 3 environmental incidents and one Level 4 incident. The Level 4 incident occurred in Canada. It was reported that 12 of the Level 3 incidents related to water and more specifically included ineffective sewerage containment and contaminated water dam overflows. It is not clear from the 2011 Sustainable Development Report where the Level 3 incidents occurred.

2012 company reports

In 2012, the company reported 12 Level 3 incidents.16 7 of these related to water and there was also one Level 4 water related incident.17 The Level 3 water incidents related to “unplanned discharges” and the Level 4 incident related to an operation in Brazil.

Also in relation to water it was stated that “Anglo American’s exposure to acid rock drainage (ARD) in southern Africa is limited to some of our Thermal Coal mines in the country’s Mpumalanga province.”18

The above figure of 12 Level 3 incidents during the year excludes the number of environmental incidents at De Beers’ operations, which amounted to 10 Level 3 incidents.19 No details of these incidents are provided.

2013 company reports

In 2013, the company reported 30 Level 3 incidents.20 In the same report it is stated that excluding De Beers there were 24 Level 3 incidents and 150 Level 2 incidents. 6 of the Level 3 incidents occurred at Thermal Coal (operating in South Africa, Colombia, Canada and Australia) and 1 at Platinum.21 Further information is available regarding these “incidents”, but it is not always clear whether or not such incidents relate to South African operations.

15 incidents during the 2013 reporting period related to water and “mostly to unauthorised discharges at the coal businesses in South Africa and Australia, following heavy rainfall”.22 Seven environmental incidents in 2013 related to land, which included three hydrocarbon spills at Thermal Coal in South Africa.23

The company reported five biodiversity related incidents in 2013, which included trees being cut down at De Beers’ Voorspoed mine, three slime spills and an overflow of municipal raw sewerage into a rehabilitated mining area at Kimberley mine.24

The Mogalakwena mine, operated by Anglo American Platinum, experienced a Level 3 tailings spillage in 2013.25 The tailings leaked into the Mohlosane River and extended for four kilometres into communal land.26 It is notable that this incident was classified as only Level 3.27

2014 company reports

In 2014, the company reported one Level 4 incident and 14 Level 3 incidents.28 One of the Level 3 incidents was a hydrocarbon spill at Kumba Iron Ore29 and another involved damage to indigenous trees and natural vegetation at De Beers’ Kimberley mine.30 Other Level 3 incidents include unauthorised mine water discharges at coal operations in South Africa.31

The Level 4 incident occurred at a South African coal mine, where an acidic water discharge caused water discolouration and metal precipitation in a stream.32

  1. Anglo American plc Sustainability Report 2015, at p11.
  2. Anglo American plc Sustainability Report 2015, at p11.
  3. Anglo American plc Sustainability Report 2015, at p54.
  4. Anglo American plc Sustainability Report 2015, at p54.
  5. Anglo American plc Sustainability Report 2015, at p54.
  6. Anglo American plc Sustainability Report 2015, at p54.
  7. Paragraphs 11-14 of the List of activities which result in atmospheric emissions which have or may have a significant detrimental effect on the environment, including health, social conditions, economic conditions, ecological conditions or cultural heritage (published in terms of section 21 of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act (AQA)), read together with paragraph 5.4.3.3 of the 2012 National Framework for Air Quality Management (published in terms of section 7 of the AQA), make provision for an application to be made to the National Air Quality Officer for the postponement of minimum emission standard (MES) compliance timeframes for existing plants. There is no provision in South African law for any official to exempt any applicant from any requirement to comply with MES. The statement that Anglo American’s smelters were granted "exemption from the 2015 limits” is therefore incorrect.
  8. Anglo American plc Sustainability Report 2015, at p60.
  9. Anglo American plc Sustainability Report 2015, at p54.
  10. Anglo American plc Sustainability Report 2015, at p54.
  11. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2013 at p16, available at http://www.angloamerican.co.za/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa/Attachments/media/AA-SDR-2803.pdf
  12. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2013 at p59, available at http://www.angloamerican.co.za/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa/Attachments/media/AA-SDR-2803.pdf
  13. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2011 at p49, available at http://www.angloamerican.co.za/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa/Attachments/sustainable-development/SD-Report-2011a.pdf
  14. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2010 at p50, available at http://www.angloamerican.com/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-PLC-V2/investors/reports/angloamerican-sd-reporthjz-2010.pdf
  15. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2010 at p50, available at http://www.angloamerican.com/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-PLC-V2/investors/reports/angloamerican-sd-reporthjz-2010.pdf
  16. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2012 at p74, available at http://southafrica.angloamerican.com/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa/Attachments/media/sd-report-2012.pdf
  17. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2012 at p59, available at http://southafrica.angloamerican.com/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa/Attachments/media/sd-report-2012.pdf
  18. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2012 at p59, available at http://southafrica.angloamerican.com/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa/Attachments/media/sd-report-2012.pdf
  19. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2012 at p76, available at http://southafrica.angloamerican.com/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa/Attachments/media/sd-report-2012.pdf
  20. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2013 at p17, available at http://www.angloamerican.co.za/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa/Attachments/media/AA-SDR-2803.pdf
  21. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2013 at p76, available at http://www.angloamerican.co.za/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa/Attachments/media/AA-SDR-2803.pdf
  22. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2013 at p59, available at http://www.angloamerican.co.za/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa/Attachments/media/AA-SDR-2803.pdf
  23. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2013 at p66, available at http://www.angloamerican.co.za/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa/Attachments/media/AA-SDR-2803.pdf
  24. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2013 at p66, available at http://www.angloamerican.co.za/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa/Attachments/media/AA-SDR-2803.pdf
  25. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2013 at p68, available at http://www.angloamerican.co.za/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa/Attachments/media/AA-SDR-2803.pdf
  26. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2013 at p68, available at http://www.angloamerican.co.za/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa/Attachments/media/AA-SDR-2803.pdf
  27. Anglo American provided an explanation for this classification in its response to Full Disclosure. Please see http://cer.org.za/full-disclosure/company/anglo-american-plc?correspondence
  28. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2014 at p56, available at http://southafrica.angloamerican.com/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa-V2/documents/sdr14-interactive-version.pdf
  29. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2014 at p57, available at http://southafrica.angloamerican.com/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa-V2/documents/sdr14-interactive-version.pdf
  30. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2014 at p57, available at http://southafrica.angloamerican.com/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa-V2/documents/sdr14-interactive-version.pdf
  31. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2014 at p65, available at http://southafrica.angloamerican.com/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa-V2/documents/sdr14-interactive-version.pdf
  32. Anglo American Sustainable Development Report 2014 at p65, available at http://southafrica.angloamerican.com/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-South-Africa-V2/documents/sdr14-interactive-version.pdf