Compliants, incidence and compliance


Amplats has a systematic approach to capturing, recording, investigating and providing feedback on environmental complaints and incidents.



Altogether ten environmental complaints were reported in 2012, compared to 20 in 2011.

Of the complaints in 2012, six were air-quality-related complaints that occurred in the Rustenburg area. They were the result of visual emissions from the Waterval Smelter complex and RBMR, and of dust emissions from the TSFs. Twickenham Mine recorded one complaint related to an overflow of the surface water dam at the Twickenham Shaft.

All complaints received are investigated and feedback is given to the relevant stakeholders. In addition, communication with third parties is conducted in consultation with our Corporate Communications Department and with the Community Engagement Department at the operation involved.


Incidents and substandard acts and conditions

In our five-level environmental incident classification system we classify all incidents in accordance with the actual severity of their impact. For example, a Level 1 incident has a minor impact on the environment, while a Level 5 incident has a major impact on 
the environment.

Level 1 and 2 incidents are regarded as unplanned or unwanted events that result in low impacts requiring only on-site reporting, investigation and remediation. Our procedure requires that an event should be treated as a potential Level 3, 4 or 5 incident the moment it is assessed as capable of resulting in a medium, high or major environmental impact. The decision is based on defined classification criteria and on the environmental co-ordinator’s professional judgement. Confirmation of the event as a potential Level 3, 4 or 5 incident triggers reporting to the relevant authorities and to senior management. A full investigation, supported by extensive engagement with the authorities, confirms the final significance and classification of the incident. All incidents are closed out after a thorough investigative process.

This process ensures a transparent approach and the review of existing controls, and ensures that the true significance of incidents is confirmed for public reporting.

Level 1 and 2 incidents and substandard conditions

The number of Level 1 incidents reported in 2012 was 442 (an additional 34 incidents were reported as Level 2), which represents an increase of 54% on the number reported in 2011. However, the reporting of both incidents and substandard acts and conditions increased by 28%, indicating a renewed focus on reporting and awareness.

The following categories (representing the areas of impact) are used for classification purposes:

  • Air
  • Biodiversity
  • Sites of archaeological and cultural interest
  • Closure
  • Land and soil
  • Visual aspects
  • Climate and energy
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Waste
  • Water

As was the case with incidents in 2011, most of the Level 1 and 2 environmental incidents reported in 2012 were caused by the inadequate management of hydrocarbons such as diesel, oil, grease (40% in the land and soil category) that contaminated soil. This was followed by leaks, discharges and contamination (27% in the water category); and improper dust and air quality management (21% in the air category). The bar chart on page 125 provides a consolidated view of the various categories of Level 1 and 2 environmental incidents in 2012.

Substandard acts and conditions in 2012 followed a similar pattern to those in 2011, with the highest reporting relating to the inadequate management of hydrocarbons such as diesel, oil, grease (42% in the land and soil category); inadequate waste management (22% in the waste management category); and leaks, discharges and contamination (18% in the water category). The graph above provides a consolidated view of the various categories of substandard acts and conditions in 2012.

Hydrocarbon-related incidents and substandard conditions contributed around 40% respectively of all reported events in 2012. It is encouraging to see an increase in reported incidents and substandard acts and conditions respectively, as reporting plays an important role in prevention. Hydrocarbon-related reported incidents and substandard acts and conditions relate to spillage as a result of the storage and use of fuel, oil, grease and lubricants and will continue to receive attention.

The number of waste-related incidents as a percentage of all incidents reported decreased between 2011 and 2012, from 16% to 10%, mainly as a result of improved awareness. The year-on-year increase − from 15% to 21% − of air-quality-related incidents is a concern, since dust is normally highly visible and also leads to complaints. Dust fallout from the TSFs is the main cause of reported incidents and complaints.

All reported incidents and substandard conditions generate a response; 
trends are tracked to ensure that their root causes are addressed to prevent reoccurrence and the impacted area rehabilitated.

Level 3 incidents

Although 12 potential Level 3 incidents were reported in 2012 (in comparison to 18 in 2011) and were investigated to confirm whether the impact met the significance criteria, no incidents were confirmed to have a final significance rating of Level 3 or higher after the investigation. Of the 12 incidents, ten were related to discharges and spillages at our operations. The other two were related to tailings spillages. As stated, none of the incidents investigated were found to have had any significant impacts on the receiving environments of the catchments in which we operate. According to the incident investigation procedure, all incidents with the potential to cause a significant environmental impact are reported to the relevant authorities and are investigated in detail to ensure that a realistic and accurate indication of significance is allocated in the final ratings. All these incidents were found to have had a low impact on the environment, and were thus downgraded to Level 1 or 2 incidents and reported as such to the authorities. Existing controls were reviewed and mitigation measures were either improved or new ones implemented.


Level 4 and 5 incidents

No Level 4 or 5 incidents were recorded in 2012.


The three critical acts (in addition to others) which relate to the environment, the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) and the National Water Act (NWA), and related regulations, regulate environmental impact management in South Africa. In Zimbabwe, the Mines and Minerals Act (MMA) performs a role similar to that of the MPRDA in South Africa, which regulates mining in particular. These acts also prescribe statutory duties in respect of environmental standards, the mitigation of environmental impacts and the rehabilitation of disturbed land.

In order to ensure that all environmental authorisations are granted on time, three South African Government departments (Mineral Resources, Environmental Affairs and Water Affairs) are engaged during the application process.

We are compliant with all the relevant environmental legislation in terms of environmental authorisations, licences and permits, with the exception of one water-use licence for Amandelbult (which still operates under a water permit). Although the initial application for this licence was submitted as far back as 2005, a resubmission was made in 2011 owing to documents being misplaced by the DWA, changed DWA requirements and changed circumstances at the operations.

The environmental management systems at our operations provide the management framework needed to track compliance with applicable legal and other requirements, and to support improvement in the prevention of pollution.

No fines or non-monetary sanctions were imposed by authorities at any of our South African or Zimbabwean operations in 2012 for non-compliance with environmental regulations, licences or permits at our managed operations.

All operations have access to the relevant environmental legislation, 
and to an environmental legal register designed specifically to address 
issues of importance to their sites. All operations are also kept informed of changes in environmental legislation.

All managed operations were subjected to internal legal compliance reviews during 2012. The findings and action plans of all audits and internal reviews are managed through our environmental management system until close-out. Internal review findings are reported to management at each operation and key findings are elevated to executive heads where applicable.

table138 Compliance status based on legal reviews

The operations reviewed are identified as being legally compliant if all the conditions in the legal authorised documents (e.g. EMP reports, environmental impacts assessments, water use licences, etc) are implemented or have adequate action plans that will be completed. Therefore, a “finding” implies that all actions related to a specific condition have not yet been completed and does therefore represent a legal non-conformance. In general, the number of conditions (and therefore the number of findings) increased in 2012 owing to the addition of new legal checklists that were used in conjunction with the internal legal reviews.

Mining operations

Detailed legal reviews were conducted at four mining operations in 2012, in which 2,880 conditions were identified. Of these, 2,629 were found to be compliant and 251 were findings.

The legal reviews highlighted the following focus areas:

  • Conditions of water-use licences
  • GN704 requirements to separate clean and dirty water
  • Concurrent rehabilitation
  • Monitoring of environmental noise and PM10 levels
  • Waste management practices
  • Statutory environmental reporting to regulators

In 2012, 91% of the conditions were fully compliant or had adequate management plans in place, compared with 71% in 2011. This amounts to a significant year-on-year improvement in overall compliance.

Process operations

Legal reviews were conducted at all process operations (smelters, refineries and concentrators) during 2012. In total, 3,105 conditions were identified, compared with a total of 565 in 2011. Of the 3,105 conditions, 2,947 were found to be fully compliant or to have adequate action plans in place, while 178 conditions needed attention.

The legal reviews highlighted the following focus areas:

  • Groundwater remediation management plans
  • Air-quality-improvement initiatives
  • Waste-management plans

In 2012, 95% of the conditions were fully compliant or had adequate management plans in place (88% in 2011), pointing to a year-on-year improvement in overall compliance.

We view findings as risk areas and continue to take corrective action to ensure legal compliance. A follow-up review will be conducted during 2013 to verify the progress of corrective actions against the findings.


Environmental management programme (EMP) performance assessments

Mining operations

The Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) states that any organisation that has obtained a mining permit or a mining right must compile and submit an environmental performance assessment report (EPAR) to the Director: Mineral Development of the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) for approval. The frequency of performance-assessment reporting is every two years (or as specified in the approved EMPs).

Therefore, in addition to the legal compliance reviews described above, EPAs were completed for the Twickenham, Mogalakwena, Amandelbult, Union and Rustenburg mines in 2012. While most mines have to conduct an environmental performance assessment once every two years, Twickenham and Mogalakwena mines are required to conduct an assessment annually.

Altogether 2,295 conditions were assessed at these mining operations. Of these, 1,345 (91%) were observed to be compliant. Among the rest were 255 (9%) non-completed conditions and 695 non-applicable conditions (as a result of the current life-cycle phase of the operation). General findings, therefore, were similar to those reported for the mining operations in the sections on compliance above.

Owing to the labour unrest, the schedule for the performance assessments for Twickenham, Amandelbult, Union and Rustenburg mines was affected. The performance assessments could consequently be conducted only late in 2012 and the reports will be submitted to the DMR during the first quarter of 2013.


Process operations

Statutory environmental performance assessments (EPAs) were undertaken at all process operations in 2012 and EPARs submitted to the DMR. 
The methodology used for 2012 differed from that employed in 2011: 
all process-related EMP conditions were extracted from the mining EMPs in order to assign responsibilities and action plans to the process operations. Hence a comparison of 2011 and 2012 is not representative.

The total number of conditions assessed for all operations was 3,361. There were 143 (5%) applicable conditions requiring attention. Groundwater-management and rehabilitation was identified as key focus areas in going forward.

At 96%, the percentage adherence remained high for all process operations.

Assessment of compliance through internal water audits

Internal water-use-compliance audits against approved water-use licences (WULs) were conducted at the Twickenham Platinum Mine, the Polokwane Smelter and the Mogalakwena Mine. The level of compliance was rated at 89%, 92% and 94% respectively. The non-compliant findings are considered minor and of low risk; they will be addressed through the implementation of the integrated water-and-waste management plan (IWWMP) developed for each operation.

An additional two integrated WULs were approved by the DWA at the Rustenburg and Union operations during 2012. Upon review several administrative and substantive errors were observed with the WUL conditions. The DWA has been engaged on this matter and WUL amendment processes are under way. The requirement for compliance audits 
on these WULs is under discussion with the DWA. A proposal was made 
to the DWA to suspend the audit requirements of the two WULs approved in 2012 until these WULs have been amended and value-adding audits can be undertaken.

All other operations have developed and are implementing IWWMPs. The DWA defines an IWWMP as a simple, feasible, implementable plan for water use, based upon site-specific programmes, but also taking into account the National Water Resource Strategy, the Catchment Management Strategy and the Resource Quality Objectives. It has to consider the sensitivity of the receiving water resource, the upstream and downstream cumulative impacts of water-use activities, external water-use authorisation guidelines, and water-use-specific supplementary information requirements.


All the environmental cost centres were analysed with the focus on costs for waste disposal, emissions treatment, remediation, prevention and environmental management. 
The 2012 environmental expenditure for Amplats’ managed operations 
is as follows:

  • R121.8 million for waste disposal, emissions treatment and remediation.
  • R91.7 million for the prevention of pollution and environmental management.

The total calculated estimate for environmental expenditure increased from R167.1 million to R213.8 million in 2012, which represents a year-on-year increase of 28%. This was mainly the result of an improved system for calculating environmental expenditures and not actual cost increases.

The total excludes costs of non-product output as defined in the International Federation of Accountants’ document, “International Guidance Document on Environmental Management Accounting”.


Regulation 41(3) of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (Act No 28 of 2002) requires that the closure liability of mining operations must be assessed on an annual basis. Regulation 54 (2) indicates that the holder of a prospecting right, mining right or mining permit must annually update and review the quantum of the financial provision for closure liability in consultation with a competent person.

We use a Standardised Reclamation Cost Estimator (SRCE) model for each of the managed operations to assist with the annual update of the operations’ closure liability estimates. This model was introduced primarily to standardise our approach to closure costing, but also to make updating easier and less costly.

On an annual basis, in terms of the commitments of its approved EMP and closure objectives, each operation utilises the SRCE model to estimate the total expenditure required for the final rehabilitation and remediation of its operations. All the rehabilitation liabilities based on current assets and impacts were updated in 2012. The total undiscounted rehabilitation liability for all our operations at the end of 2012 was estimated to be R3,112 million.

In addition to estimating our closure liability, we place emphasis on turning rehabilitation into opportunities for community development and engagement. Although partial closure is not accepted by the DMR, the restoration costs for successful rehabilitation projects in line with the EMP commitments can be offset against the annual closure provision. As a result specific opportunities for continuous rehabilitation have been identified and highlighted to the operations during the 2012 closure liability assessments.

The Platinum Producers Environmental Trust Fund was established for managed operations so as to fund their estimated environmental closure liabilities. Different trust funds exist for the same purpose for our joint ventures. Contributions are determined on the basis of the estimated environmental obligation over the life of a mine, to a maximum of 30 years. The total amount in all the environmental rehabilitation trusts at year end was R723 million. The shortfall between this total and the undiscounted environmental rehabilitation liability for premature mine closure is funded by way of bank guarantees in favour of the DMR.


A view across the Twickenham Mine landscape



Spud Shaft, Union Mine


View from an archaelogical site near Unki Mine.