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Environmental performance

Each and every prospecting, mining and related activity undertaken by Petra Diamonds is informed by the Company’s awareness of environmental issues, and its commitment to undertaking these activities in accordance with the highest environmental standards.


Compliance, management and mitigation

Petra’s operations are subject to stringent environmental regulation under international and local law. In South Africa, the Company adheres to the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Development Act (“MPRDA”)(2002) and the National Environmental Management Act (“NEMA”) (1998), as well as international best practice standards. Tanzania’s corresponding legislation is the Environmental Management Act (“EMA”) (2003) and the Mining Health and Safety Act (“MHSA”)(1998), as well as the 1999 regulations.

Environmental Management Programmes (“EMPs”) are in place for each prospecting and mining permit and efforts to mitigate against environmental impacts and risks are upheld to the highest degree.

Post the end of FY 2011, Petra formed the Health, Safety, Social and Environmental (“HSSE”) Committee which is responsible for the regular monitoring on environmental exposures and compliance with environmental regulations and reports as necessary to the Board. The Board believes that the Company has adequate systems in place for the management of its environmental requirements and is not aware of any breach of those environmental requirements as they apply to the Company.

Cullinan is ISO 14001-certified, with Koffiefontein and Kimberley Underground scheduled to be certified in FY 2012. The latter two operations have both been developed according to set environmental policies and procedures required for legal compliance, and in line with an internationally recognised environmental management system, but have yet to be certified. Cullinan’s last external ISO 14001 surveillance audit was in November 2010 and no critical or major findings were raised. The certification is valid until January 2013.

Williamson is not yet ISO 14001-certified and this will be followed up as soon as the new plant is in operation.

Petra is seeking to comply with the National Water Act in South Africa, which is currently prompting the submission of Integrated Water Use Licence Applications (“IWULA”) for both Kimberley Underground and Cullinan. These were submitted during the year under review and approval is awaited. The IWULA process for Koffiefontein has begun and will be submitted in FY 2012, and the preparatory work for the IWULA submissions for Sedibeng and Helam is also planned for FY 2012. The Star mine is currently undertaking the public participation stage of the process, while Koffiefontein already completed its public participation with its Integrated Waste and Water Management Plans (IWWMPs) being in the final review phase.

Frequent stakeholder engagement is undertaken to ensure open and transparent communication with both authorities and communities regarding environmental issues. During the year under review, all operations engaged with local, provincial and national governments. Both Cullinan and Koffiefontein engaged with the local community as part of their water licence application and integrated water use licence application respectively.

Environmental performance

Petra monitors its environmental performance based on its use of both water and energy, its management of the land upon which its operations are held, biodiversity; dust and waste, and its rehabilitation and closure procedures.

During FY 2011, Kimberley Underground’s EMP was approved by South Africa’s DMR, and preparation for the McHardy stream diversion at Cullinan is in progress. The McHardy stream diversion is a project needing legal compliance. Currently, the McHardy stream flows directly into one of the mine’s pollution control dams, leading to clean and dirty water mixing, in contravention of the General Notice 704 under the National Water Act. By diverting the stream around the pollution control dam, the mine improves water management practices and complies with legislation.

The ground work for the indigenous nursery at Koffiefontein was also laid, and the nursery’s grand opening was held subsequent to year-end, on 9 September 2011. For more information, please see the case study on the Koffiefontein nursery.

There were no major environmental incidents during the year under review, though three moderate incidents were reported at Cullinan and four at Kimberley Underground. The incidents at Cullinan related to overflows from a pollution containment facility and were a result of cable theft. Breaches of this kind are legal contraventions in terms of South Africa’s National Water Act and all incidents have been reported to the relevant authorities. Kimberley Underground’s incidences included three slimes spills and significant erosion to the storm water trench as a result of water leakage from the plant.

Neither any significant environmental incidents, nor any significant spills, were reported at Williamson during the year under review.

A major environmental incident is reportable and is associated with widespread, long-term, irreversible (more than five years) negative ecological impacts with a high risk of legal liability. An incident of this nature would completely disrupt natural systems. A moderate incident is associated with a widespread or localised, medium-term, reversible (within five years) significant ecological impact and/or has a risk of legal liability. A minor incident is limited to the immediate area of occurrence associated with a short-term ecological disturbance, environmental nuisance or a transgression of an internal standard (including complaints from interested and affected parties) that does not result in any environmental impact after a once-off internal intervention. Lastly, an environmental near-hit incident is one with no effect on natural environment, but with the potential to cause an effect.

Depending on the nature of the incident, the corrective and preventive actions may take anything from a couple of hours to months to address. An incident should be reported to the authorities within 48 hours, during which time action must be taken to investigate and/or address it. At Cullinan, the cables where replaced within two days and additional security measures where put in place which included more frequent patrols in the applicable areas. The cables were also buried and covered with concrete. Palisade fencing and sirens where placed around transformers for added security. The incidents at Kimberley Underground took longer to address as they needed to make significant changes to the Joint Shaft plant and flooring to eliminate the root causes of the incidents.

Resource usage


Water is a scarce resource in Africa and one which Petra is committed to utilising responsibly, especially considering the water-intensive nature of its business.

Diamond mining involves processes that require water in order to liberate diamonds from the host rock. The most significant potentially polluting process is the crushing of the kimberlite ore during which dust is generated. This dust gets trapped in the water and is referred to as suspended solids. The contaminated water is pumped into settling or slimes dams where the suspended solids sink to the bottom. The clean water is then recycled back into the system through penstocks or pump stations that are situated at the top of the water level in the dams. This is as much a cost-saving initiative as it is an environmental imperative. Importantly, no harmful reagents are used to liberate the diamonds. Iron silicate is used in the processing of kimberlite ore as this assists with dense media separation (to separate diamonds from the rock). This is reclaimed, however, and not released into the environment, again for both environmental and cost reasons.

As a result, all of Petra’s operations monitor and manage their water consumption closely, implementing measures to mitigate against unnecessary use and pollution wherever possible.

Despite these efforts, however, water management has been identified as the Company’s most crucial environmental risk and the following measures are being put in place to monitor and mitigate Petra’s use of this vital resource. Each operation makes use of their site-specific integrated water and waste management plan to address any water issues that may arise.

South Africa
Petra is registered with the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs (“DWEA”) as a water user in South Africa, and works in compliance with all regulations while the various operations’ IWULA are awaited.

Each South African operation sources its water from different sources:

  • At Cullinan, underground water is pumped into a reservoir from where it is extracted into the closed water system that runs through the plants. All water released by the plants runs into sumps where it is pumped back to the fine tailings facility known as No 7 dam. The mine runs a closed circuit water reticulation system that recycles all water from No 7 dam. Any discharge from the mine into the water courses is closely monitored and carried out in line with permits.
  • At Koffiefontein, water is withdrawn from underground, as well as from the Kalkfontein dam, which is located 25km from the mine. The water from the dam is pumped directly into the Koffiefontein dam through a concrete canal. The underground water, as well as the recycled water from the slime dams, goes to settling dams from which it is pumped to the raw water dam for use in the mine. Only water required is pumped from the Koffiefontein dam to the raw water dam and eventually all surplus water on the mine goes back to Koffiefontein dam via the settling dams.
  • At Kimberley Underground, water from the Bultfontein and Dutoitspan mines was sent to the new Brandt’s dam in the previous financial year. It was pumped from this dam to the mine’s joint shaft plant.
  • At Star, Sedibeng and Helam, underground water that ingresses into the operations is pumped to surface for use by the operations.
  • A small volume of potable water is used for domestic purposes and sourced from local municipalities for Cullinan, Sedibeng, Star, Koffiefontein and Kimberley Underground. Helam uses filtered borehole water for potable purposes.

In FY 2011, Kimberley Underground experienced some challenges with plant process water overflows. The contaminated water ends up in the Paardebergvlei which is a sensitive wetland (legal non-compliance). The issue was first identified in 2010 when the plant was started up and amendments were made to reduce spillages. Concrete flooring was also put in place under the plant footprint to divert spillage away from stormwater drainage areas. No fines were issued and nor was there any requirement for the DEA to be involved. The situation should be under control by mid 2012.

Effluent from Koffiefontein is high in sulphate, sodium, chloride and TDS at levels that are higher than legally allowed. This was identified during FY 2011 when routine water monitoring was reinstated. Analysis of results for the IWULA highlighted the seriousness of the situation. Improved water management processes as part of the IWULA will reduce the volume of effluent and improve water quality as silt traps will be cleaned out. Some of the proposed changes have already been implemented but it will take a while before improvements in data monitoring are noted. It will also take a couple of years before all proposed measures are successfully implemented.

Effluent management at Cullinan is hampered due to the V-notch required to monitor the volume leaving the site being out of order for more than a year. The quality of effluent is not meeting legal standards due to high fluoride levels. The mine is aware of the non-compliance since 2009 and the following actions have been undertaken:

  • A containment sump was constructed upstream of the discharge point to reduce the volume of contaminated water flowing down the stream. The dilution factor from the remaining inflow is enough to reverse the concentrations within legal limits.
  • Professional engineers Jones & Wagner are busy designing a monitoring mechanism to be constructed in the difficult soil conditions to measure the volume of discharge.

It is expected that all construction work will be completed by mid 2012. Most of the construction needs to be done during the dry season. The DWA was informed of the situation by way of annual water reports and needs to approve the IWULA where these shortcomings are highlighted.

No fines were incurred as a result of any of these environmental issues.


Petra’s Williamson operation in Tanzania is licenced under the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, which issues water rights and acts in compliance with the Water Resource Management Act, 2009.

The Williamson mine sources its water from the Songwa, New Alamas and Nhumbu dams. There is a closed circuit water system and no water is discharged into the environment.

Williamson samples and monitors potable water at the mine every day for pH levels, turbidity, conductivity and free and combined chlorine. Quarterly samples are also taken for bacteriological, chemical and physical analysis according to the maximum acceptable concentrations set out by the Tanzania Bureau of Standards. A water consumer confidence report is compiled each year. No complaints were raised during FY 2011.

Water withdrawal per source for all operations in FY 2011
FY 2011       
MineMunicipal (m³) Ground water (m³) Total % recycled
Cullinan448,354 294,908 743,262 99
Koffiefontein90,476 1,208,600 1,299,076 99
Kimberley Underground139,231 3,731,364 3,870,595 _
Helam_ 174,384 174,384 32
Sedibeng_ 1,098,000 1,098,000 55
Star68,874 216,400 216,400 10
Williamson1,606,642 _ 1,606,642 _
Water withdrawal per source for all operations in FY 2010
FY 2010       
MineMunicipal (m³) Ground water (m³) Total % recycled
Cullinan404,078 303,864 707,942 99
Koffiefontein102,210 1,032,420 1,134,630 99
Kimberley Underground60,248 3,424,447 3,484,695 _
HelamBorehole 250,000 250,000 95
SedibengBorehole 1,009,152 1,009,152 55
Star65,594 21,864 87,458 10
WilliamsonDam Dam 3,799,845 30


Petra sources its electricity primarily from South Africa’s national power utility, Eskom, and from the National Electricity Company, Tanesco, in Tanzania. The Mwadui power station, which is owned by and located at Williamson, also generates power.

The Mwadui power station has a power factor correction unit built into the switchboard, a function which has decreased utility power losses by 1MVA (approximately 20% per month).

Sharp increases in electricity prices from Eskom in recent months has resulted in improved efforts to both monitor and manage electricity usage more effectively. These include as many off-peak operations as possible; the installation of energy saving appliances and globes; daytime switches on security lights; and energy efficiency awareness programmes.

Total energy consumption per source
Energy consumption (kWh)FY 2011 FY 2010
Energy from electricity generated (Tanzania)867,900 1,068,600
Energy from electricity imported (Tanesco)9,777,620 23,596,330
Energy from electricity purchased (South Africa)220,407,349 213,533,710
Total energy consumption231,052,869 238,198,640

All resources used as energy sources are monitored for efficiency by Petra’s operations. This includes not only direct sources such as electricity consumption, but also commodities such as diesel, petrol, paraffin, LPG and natural gases, the details of which reported under materials used. At this stage, efficiency at the operations is ensured through the scheduled maintenance of machinery and vehicles.

Climate change and carbon emissions

Petra is committed to entrenching a culture of climate change awareness within its corporate and operational ethos. Efforts to minimise the use of electricity, water and fuel are undertaken at every turn with due seriousness.

Direct and indirect carbon emissions in FY2011
 Units Consumption CO2e (tonnes) % total emissions
Direct emissions: Scope 1       
Diesel consumptionl 2,394,780 6,298  
Petrol consumptionl 88,293 204  
LPGKg 1,878,000 5,577  
Sub-total    12,079 5
Indirect emissions: Scope 2       
Electricity consumptionkWh 220,407,349 211,150  
Sub-total    211,150 95
Other indirect emissions: Scope 3      
Waste disposal (domestic) T 626 62  
Waste disposal (hazardous) T 76 8  
Paper consumption T 4 4  
Sub-total     74
Total emissions     223,304 100

Land management and biodiversity

Petra is highly cognisant of the importance of monitoring the land currently under its management, in order to be aware of areas that require rehabilitation and to manage those areas in which rehabilitation is being undertaken.

Biodiversity is protected through the implementation of invader plant management programmes.

South Africa

There are no protected areas in close proximity of Petra's South African operations. Though Dutoitspan in Kimberley was previously a non-perennial wetland, it is now a perennial dam filled with water and minerals owing to historic mining activity in the area and is not considered a protected area.

An important part of Petra's environmental management strategy is the allocation of protected biodiversity parks for the protection of fauna and flora. In South Africa, 4,456 hectares have been allocated for this purpose, at Cullinan (1,549 hectares), Koffiefontein (1,780 hectares), Sedibeng (737 hectares) and Helam (1,390 hectares).

These game reserves are fenced to ensure a demarcation from the general mining area and are managed by committees. The committee at Cullinan is known as the Premier Wild Life Club whose members consist of present and past employees of the mine. The club’s committee includes a representative of present mine management. Star mine is situated close to an industrial conservancy which looks after the Theunissen area and this includes Theronskop and Lion Hill.

There are a few specifically protected species and habitats at Cullinan. Here the Company uses a biological control process to eliminate alien and invasive species from natural habitats. This process uses the plants’ natural enemies to control and eliminate the spread of alien and invasive species, as opposed to the more common control through herbicides and cutting down of trees. These invasive plant species make use of water resources and also inhibit the growth of other indigenous plants. A total of 5 hectares of alien invasive vegetation were cleared during the past year.

Cullinan Ant

Six specimens of a new species of ant were collected in 2001 during a survey of a proposed site for a new explosives magazine at the then Premier Mine. Subsequent attempts in 2003 and 2007 to locate more specimens within this site and in the neighboring Premier Game Park were unsuccessful. A detailed survey was therefore commissioned in 2008 by the renamed Cullinan Diamond Mine with the aim of confirming whether or not the “Cullinan Ant” still occurred in the original site and whether a viable population occurred outside of the mine area within the Premier Game Park, so that the survival of the species would not be threatened by the proposed covering of the original site by tailings.

A single colony of the “Cullinan Ant” was found on 19 March 2010 within the site of its original discovery but, despite detailed surveys of three similar areas, no specimens were found within the Premier Game Park.

The generic position of the “Cullinan Ant”, originally thought to be a species of the genus Afroxyidris, has now been resolved and there is no doubt that it represents an undescribed species of the genus Solenopsis. Its discovery will necessitate substantial re-definition of Solenopsis as it displays characteristics not found in any previously described members of this genus. A formal description of the species can now be published and we propose to use the specific name taemane (the South Sotho word for diamond) to reflect the site of its discovery.

Although no additional locality records were obtained, we believe that the “Cullinan Ant” is most likely associated with the Rand Highveld Grassland vegetation type and its distribution may thus extend to the east of Cullinan. Re-examination of records and material from detailed surveys of 30 other sites in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo has confirmed that the “Cullinan Ant” was not collected in any of these localities. As it is known from only one location and there is a continuing decline in suitable habitat in the surrounding region, an IUCN Red List classification of critically endangered may be appropriate, but the possibility remains that it is more widely distributed and there is still insufficient data to formally evaluate its status.

Samples of the Cullinan Ant

Dirk Mellet (Cullinan), Jonathan Fisher and Dawn Toussaint (AfriBugs) with
samples of the “Cullinan Ant” after excavation of the nest

Cullinan Ant

The “Cullinan Ant”


The exceptional work done by Williamson regarding the re-forestation of the Mwadui area continued during the year under review and is discussed in more detail in the Williamson forest management case study. The mine continues to protect the area in an attempt to conserve it for future generations, and the area’s fauna, specifically jackal, hyena, reed buck, dik-dik, continue to call the area their home.

An area in the center of the Mwadui Township, totalling 500m² and formerly a golf course, has been identified and proclaimed as conservation area called Ngitili. Approximately 5,000 indigenous trees have been planted in this area since 2008. A parks and gardens department has also been created which is responsible for the replanting of trees, the controlling of invader species and the maintenance of parks and gardens in the township area.

The following programmes are run under the auspices of the Ngitili project:

  • Seedling programme: since 2007, seedlings have been grown at the Williamson nursery and annually distributed to the surrounding villages. The nursery has the capacity to raise 500,000 seedlings annually – a target towards which the nursery is working – and produced 120,000 during the year under review. A substantial portion of these seedlings, approximately 114,000, has been given to Williamson employees, surrounding communities, and used in the Company’s rehabilitation programme.
  • Timber harvesting: in 2009, an agreement was made with the surrounding villages allowing them to harvest timber under the supervision of the Mwadui environmental coordinator. During the year, 1,064 lots of timber at an average weight of five tonnes per lot were distributed to the neighbouring villages and to three secondary schools.
  • Water access points: Williamson was active in initiatives to install controlled water access points to vulnerable communities to provide them with potable water during the long dry season.

No new protected species were identified on the mine during FY 2011.

Waste management

The effective management of waste is an environmental priority for Petra and efforts are undertaken and constantly reviewed to assist with waste management and disposal. Recycling is undertaken as far as possible, to the point of old conveyors from Kimberley Underground being donated to organisations such as the SPCA for the manufacturing of products like animal feeding containers and the lining of cages. Old tyres are returned to the Company’s suppliers for recycling.

Materials used

Petra is keenly aware of both the environmental and cost implications of effectively managing the materials used at its operations. The manufacturing of chemicals holds an inherent cost to the environment either through the mining of raw products or the use of water and electricity during production. These processes, necessarily, also have impact on cost.

Each mine has various programmes and objectives in place to reduce their material consumption. Since 2008, Cullinan has phased out the use of hazardous chemicals (caustic soda and nitric acid) in the final recovery process. Koffiefontein implemented a paper saving initiative by driving double-sided printing and electronic communication. The implementation of an electronic SHE data management system throughout the Cullinan, Koffiefontein and Kimberley Underground mines has reduced the number of paper reports and files needed to be printed for incident reporting and inspections.

Materials used by operation in 2011
MineFuel (l) Gases (kg) Lubricants (l)
Cullinan1,331,225 1,694 105,615
Koffiefontein807,858 98,866
Kimberley Underground 343,990 184 17,226
Helam 140,000 4,985 15,470
Sedibeng n.a n.a n.a
Star72,000 2,000 22,000
Total 2,695,073 8,863 259,177
Materials by weight or volumeFY2011 FY2010
Fuel (000/)2,695 5,405
Gases (000kg)9 594
Lubricating oils (000/) 259 577

Provisions for rehabilitation and closure

Petra’s rehabilitation efforts currently involve 7ha of the approximately 2,818ha disturbed, and concerted measures are in place to improve these efforts.

The first step in addressing the large shortfall in rehabilitation is to review all the mine’s EMPs in line with the current status of each operation. Preliminary assumptions and potential land use options will then be discussed with the authorities and local community. It is only with this updated information that conceptual closure plans and rehabilitation strategies can be developed. Formal closure plans are only required five years before the scheduled closure of an operation. Before then, conceptual closure plans are implemented.

Four out of the six mines in South Africa have already started or completed a full review of their EMP. The other two mines will do so by the end of 2013. The conceptual closure plan for Cullinan is already available. Koffiefontein and Sedibeng are busy with the development of their closure plans. Rehabilitation trials at Cullinan and research at the North West University’s Potchefstroom campus on Kimberlitic Tailings, will aid in the development of realistic rehabilitation strategies to be implemented at all the operations.

Case studies

An indigenous nursery at Koffiefontein

Petra’s Koffiefontein mine and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (“DAFF”) have been working closely during the year under review to establish a community nursery. The nursery, which forms part of the DAFF/Xhariep District Greening Programme, will sell affordable indigenous trees and seedlings and will contribute positively to both the lives of the Xhariep District community members and to the environment. Read case study

Williamson diamond mine and responsible rehabilitation

Williamson diamond mine is a large open-pit operation that has been in existence for some 70 years mining the 146 hectare Mwadui kimberlite pipe. The mine strives to keep the impact of such an extensive and long-term operation to a minimum. Read case study


The following GRI indicators are covered in this section:

Stakeholder Engagement
Key topics and concerns of stakeholders
Economic Performance
Financial implications and risks due to climate change
Environmental Performance
Management approach
Aspect: Materials
Weight of materials used
Aspect: Energy
Direct energy consumption by primary source
Indirect energy consumption by primary source
Aspect: Water
Total water withdrawal
Aspect: Biodiversity
Location and size of land owned, leased or managed in, or adjacent to protected areas
Description of significant impacts of activities, products and services on biodiversity and protected areas of high biodiversity value outside of protected areas
Aspect: Emissions, Effluents and Waste
Total direct and indirect GHG emissions by weight
Other relevant indirect GHG emissions by weight
Total water discharge by quality and destination
Total weight of waste by type and disposal method
Total number and volume of significant spills
Initiatives to mitigate environmental impacts of products