Skip to Content

Full Disclosure 2016

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

2013 company reports

The following statement is made in Sibanye’s 2013 Integrated Report:

The receipt of integrated water use licences (IWULs) remains a concern for the mining industry as a whole, with a significant backlog in their issuances by the DWA. In the absence of issued or valid IWULs, water management is conducted taking cognisance of current legislation and the permits, exemptions and directives that have been issued.1

The 2013 Sustainability Report provides further detail on the pending IWULs. According to the report the IWUL for Beatrix has not yet been granted as a reserve determination for the catchment area must first be conducted. The report states that although the DWA has appointed a consultant, the determination has not yet been completed. Therefore the authorisation currently held by Beatrix is described as: “Valid permit and exemptions in terms of the previous Water Act, 1956”.

Driefontein’s IWUL was issued in 2010 with inaccuracies and omissions, and therefore amendments were underway.

Kloof’s IWUL expired in 2011 and although an application was submitted the adjudication of the application was reportedly still underway. Kloof was therefore operating under a directive allowing the Group to continue with water-use activities until the renewal licence was granted.2

This report also notes that all operations had submitted applications for AELs.3

The 2013 Sustainability Report also explains the categorisation of significant incidents (Levels 3 to 5). A Level 3 incident results in “ongoing but limited environmental impact”, a Level 4 incident results in “medium-term environmental impact” and a Level 5 incident results in “long-term environmental impact”.4

During the year there was one Level 3 environmental incident, which related to a slimes spillage at the Driefontein Operation. It is noted that this resulted in degradation of soil and water quality.5 There were also Level 1 and 2 incidents but the nature and number of these is not specified.6

The 2013 Sustainability Report also records a complaint at the Driefontein operation during the year relating to air-quality.7

2014 company reports

Sibanye’s 2014 Integrated Report contains details of the company’s environmental management performance assessment reports and the following non-compliances are listed:

Beatrix:

  • Incomplete tailings storage facility cover design study;
  • No formal monitoring and management study inclusive of a rehabilitation strategy for the decommissioning phase;
  • No formal schedule for damaged walls and spillways.

Cooke 4:

  • Discharge of approximately 70Ml/day of water under old order water permit (quality and volume outside of specification).

Driefontein:

  • No aspect of soil management included in environmental induction module.

Kloof:

  • No aspect of soil management included in environmental induction module.8

Regarding AELs, the 2014 Integrated Report states that an AEL application was submitted for Cook 4 in 2014, as well as additional information on the applications for Kloof, Beatrix and Driefontein. These three operations had received provisional AELs. Cooke however was said to be still awaiting its AEL.9

Ongoing environmental licensing processes for waste management are also detailed in this report.10

The 2014 report also provides an update regarding the WUL applications. Beatrix, Ezulwini (Cooke 4), Rand Uranium (Cooke 1, 2 and 3), Driefontein and Kloof are all described as having submitted WUL applications or having applied for amendments, but it is stated that all these operations are operating legally under either a permit/exemption in terms of the National Water Act 1956, or a WUL under the National Water Act 1998.11

In 2014, Sibanye experienced nine Level 3 environmental incidents. The incidents included the following:

  • Pipeline burst leading to soil, vegetation and river contamination;
  • Return water dam overflow leading to an impact on surface water;
  • Burst of cyanide storage tank pipes leading to soil and vegetation contamination;
  • Overflow of water pollution control dam leading to an impact on surface water;
  • Tailings spill leading to soil contamination;
  • Return water dams overtopped leading to process water discharge with resulting impact on surface water;
  • A leak in a pipeline conveying sludge leading to a spill of underground sludge onto adjacent land and water body, resulting in material entering the Wonderfonteinspruit;
  • Discharge water quality outside of WUL specification resulting in an impact on both surface and groundwater;
  • Return water dam overflow resulting in water spill onto gravel road and farming land.12

Complaints regarding air quality during the year included the following (no total number of complaints is provided):

  • A complaint about dust from a nearby farmer, as there was visible dust along the public road leading to his property;
  • Merafong City Local Municipality lodged a complaint against Driefontein for excessive dust emanating from the area around Driefontein gold plants;
  • Higher than normal dustfall levels at Bekkersdal south of Kloof, which it is reported may be attributed to specific events (erection of a new building and cleaning of roads) rather than to the relevant tailings facility.13
2015 company reports

The 2015 report provides the following update regarding WUL ‘status’: “Rand Uranium (Cooke 1, 2 and 3), Ezulwini (Cooke 4), Kloof, Driefontein, Beatrix and Burnstone all have current water use licences or authorisations. Applications have been made for amendments to some of these water use licences, and feedback from the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is pending.”14

It is also stated that, “water use licence compliance improved” and “the team approached the regulator to consider amendment of certain water use licence conditions in order to align current water use licences with the proposed resource quality objective and catchment realities”. It was also reported that the regulator conducted several audit inspections but that no directives were issued.15

There were 11 water-related incidents reported to the DWS in 2015, which primarily related to accidental water discharges and spills.16

In relation to air quality it is reported that some exceedances of permitted dust levels were experienced. No specific number of exceedances is provided. It is also noted that all operations carrying out listed activities have provisional atmospheric emissions licences.17 There were also 7 complaints received during the year relating to air quality, no details of these complaints are provided.18

The 2015 report also provides an update regarding reviews of EMP compliance:

  • At Beatrix, the outcomes of inspections by the DMR were reportedly, “predominantly positive with a high degree of compliance”.
  • At Cooke 1, 2 and 3, site inspections were again said to be “predominantly positive with a high degree of compliance”.

No information is provided about areas of non-compliance.

  • Overall compliance with the EMP according to an in-house assessment was 86%. Waste management and water management were the main areas of concern.
  • At Burnstone, an external EMP performance assessment determined a compliance level of 74%. The major concerns were identified as hydrocarbon spill management, topsoil stockpile management and stormwater run-off management.
  • At Kloof, Driefontein and Beatrix, in-house EMP performance assessments would be conducted in 2016.19

There were 8 Level 3 environmental incidents during the year. No detail is provided regarding the nature of these incidents.20

  1. Sibanye Gold Integrated Report 2013, at p64.
  2. Sibanye Gold Sustainability Report 2013, at p66.
  3. Sibanye Gold Sustainability Report 2013, at p69.
  4. Sibanye Gold Sustainability Report 2013, at p58.
  5. Sibanye Gold Sustainability Report 2013, at p58.
  6. Sibanye Gold Sustainability Report 2013, at p58.
  7. Sibanye Gold Sustainability Report 2013, at p68.
  8. Sibanye Gold Integrated Annual Report 2014, at p103.
  9. Sibanye Gold Integrated Annual Report 2014, at p103.
  10. Sibanye Gold Integrated Annual Report 2014, at p103.
  11. Sibanye Gold Integrated Report 2014, at p107.
  12. Sibanye Gold Integrated Report 2014, at p104.
  13. Sibanye Gold Integrated Report 2014, at p116.
  14. Sibanye Gold Integrated Annual Report 2015, at p58.
  15. Sibanye Gold Integrated Annual Report 2015, at p58.
  16. Sibanye Gold Integrated Annual Report 2015, at p58.
  17. Sibanye Gold Integrated Annual Report 2015 at p59.
  18. Sibanye Gold Integrated Annual Report 2015, at p59. During the year potential soil contamination studies were conducted at Kloof and Driefontein and areas with the highest risk of soil contamination were identified. It is noted that in 2016 the second phase of the study will be conducted to quantify contaminated soil and management plans will be compiled to address rehabilitation of these areas.Sibanye Gold Integrated Annual Report 2015, at p61.
  19. Sibanye Gold Integrated Annual Report 2015, at p61.
  20. Sibanye Gold Integrated Annual Report 2015, at p61.