We recognise the need to conduct our operations in an environmentally sustainable manner by using resources responsibly, protecting and restoring the environments where we operate and mitigating the impacts of our operations. We are committed to implementing rigorous environmental management processes, developing long-term sustainable practices and meeting international best practice.
We aim to continually improve our environmental management systems and are dedicated to promoting and maintaining high standards of environmental management by implementing sound procedures and monitoring processes, as well as by raising environmental awareness amongst our employees and local communities.
Our operations are subject to significant environmental regulation under applicable local legislation and we conduct regular internal and external audits to ensure we meet and go beyond compliance in this most vital area.
Environmental responsibility is integrated into our strategic planning, management systems and daily activities. We have introduced a CAP (Compliance, Assurance and Performance) approach to ensure all operations are aligned to address the strategic issues relating to environmental impact. Internal and external audits form an integral part of the CAP approach.
The main environmental risks caused by our operations are:
In order to manage these risks and the environmental impacts of our operations, we monitor our environmental performance in the following areas:
We are committed to full environmental legal compliance in the countries where we operate and our Group Environmental Policy sets out our commitment to achieving a high standard of environmental performance across all our operations. The Policy is supplemented by our Group Environmental Management Strategy which provides guidance on our Group objectives and key performance areas.
At an operational level, an Environmental Management System (“EMS”) is in place for each mining licence. This sets out detailed processes for the identification of environmental risks and implementation of action plans to mitigate the impacts of our activities.
All our underground pipe mines are ISO 14001 certified, while Williamson has an EMS compatible with ISO 14001 and shares the same goal of continual improvement as the certified mines.
A full EMS is not yet required for our exploration project in Botswana, due to the earlier stage of our activities there.
We aim to minimise environmental incidents at all our operations and have put in place processes to manage any incidents, classified according to their severity ranging from minor to major, which do occur as effectively as possible.
In South Africa, we record environmental incidents in an HSE database called IsoMetrix on an ongoing basis. The incidents are only recorded as closed once all allocated actions have been addressed and the effectiveness of the corrective actions verified.
In Tanzania, Williamson has a documented system in place where the Environmental Officers on site keep record of any reported incidents. The Environmental Coordinator is responsible for ensuring that appropriate corrective action is taken when necessary. A roll-out of IsoMetrix to Williamson is under discussion.
A key component of our environmental management is promoting environmental awareness amongst our employees. We encourage employees to report environmental incident reports relating to matters such as water leaks, hydrocarbon spillages and waste management issues, and these reports are very important in terms of preventing environmental degradation from occurring.
Any serious environmental incidents are brought to the attention of the HSE Committee and the Petra Board.
Water is a scarce resource and we have identified the management of water as one of the Company’s most significant environmental risks due to the impact of climate change.
Our operations are water intensive and changes in temperature may affect the availability of raw water for treatment processes and impact on natural water sources that sustain the communities around our operations. We are therefore committed to utilising water responsibly and efficiently.
We do not use harmful reagents when processing ore to liberate diamonds, however dust and iron silicate used in the processing of kimberlite ore do become trapped in the water as suspended solids. Wherever possible, we recycle water and remove or reclaim solids, reducing the environmental impact of our operations and improving operational efficiency.
Our Group Water Management Strategy informs our activity in this vital area. Our operations regularly monitor and manage water consumption and quality, and regular inspections and audits are performed internally to identify shortcomings in our resource management processes. Our water monitoring and inspections are continually identifying new improvement initiatives, which are then incorporated into the water management strategy.
In Tanzania, the Williamson mine plays an important role in terms of the provision of potable water to the local mine village and its surrounding communities, as it has the only water treatment plant in the district. Potable water is supplied through controlled water points, and is sampled in accordance with the standards and requirements of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards.
There has been no impact on any of the communities in which we operate related to water scarcity. The Botswana exploration project does experience some challenges in that water often has to be transported over considerable distances, but boreholes closer to camp sites have now been drilled to ease the provision of water, decrease the cost thereof and mitigate against the environmental impacts of transporting it.
Diamond mining is an energy intensive activity and the majority of energy used at our operations is externally supplied, primarily by South Africa’s national power utility, Eskom, and its equivalent in Tanzania, Tanesco.
Managing our energy usage is an environmental prerogative, in order to combat climate change, as well as a financial objective, given rising electricity prices. We therefore aim to reduce energy consumption and increase energy efficiency wherever possible.
Over the last few years, we have had great success in reducing our energy usage on a per tonne basis (from 42.9 kWh/t in FY 2012 to 33.55 kWh/t in FY 2019) and we are targeting a continued reduction in this measure.
A variety of energy saving initiatives are already in place at all our operations and the underground expansion project installations have been designed to ensure the most energy efficient operation.
We recognise the growing importance of climate change to our stakeholders and the risks and uncertainties climate change represents to our business in particular with regard to the availability of water. We are currently developing strategies to help deal with these challenges, and monitoring to establish a baseline for future strategies is currently underway.
Our operations are significant users of energy and our mines produce direct and indirect carbon emissions. FY 2012 was the first year that we reported on our carbon emissions, and since this time we have aimed to continue to improve on the way that we gather the necessary information to determine our carbon footprint.
Limiting our carbon emissions is one of the core aims of driving energy efficiency across all our operations. Petra experienced a 24% decline in direct carbon emissions (scope 1 emissions) in FY 2019 and is targeting a 1% reduction in tCO2-e/ct per annum over five years (2015 to 2020, with FY 2013 being the base year).
We recognise that our activities have an effect on biodiversity in the regions where we operate and we aim to monitor these impacts to protect our local habitats.
Each operation’s Environmental Management System sets out its commitment to biodiversity management and protection, including the requirements of South Africa’s National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act and other initiatives applicable to our operations. The importance of alignment of environmental management plans, conceptual closure plans and rehabilitation schedules cannot be emphasised enough as all of these plans work together to a common goal: remediation of our biodiversity.
None of our South African or Tanzanian operations are located in or adjacent to protected areas or areas of high biodiversity value. A number of potential biodiversity impacts on the natural fauna and flora have been identified in relation to our exploration activities in Botswana and the operation has therefore developed a Biodiversity Management Plan to ensure its operations and the potential land affected are managed responsibly.
As part of our Group environmental management strategy, studies are undertaken to identify indigenous fauna and flora before the development of greenfield areas and measures are taken to protect endangered species.
We have also established protected habitats for local vegetation and wildlife. Operations at Finsch, Cullinan and Koffiefontein in South Africa have established game farms totalling over 9,800 hectares. These game farms are fenced to ensure a demarcation from the general mining area and are managed by independent committees, normally chaired by a Company-appointed representative.
Williamson in Tanzania maintains a large forest reserve of some 906 hectares which protects different species of trees (mainly indigenous), animals and birds.
We aim to have a standardised approach on concurrent rehabilitation of our operations, with the objective of generating a non-detrimental, sustainable solution for the environment and socio-economic state of our communities that are left after mine closure. Progress on rehabilitation implementation is assessed annually and any necessary changes to the execution plans are communicated to mine management who are responsible for on-site resources.
The environmental impact from Petra’s mining activities is not expected to last long after the cessation of the operations, due to our strategic approach and our commitment to our values at each step of the mining chain. Each project is planned with the end in mind, creating the potential to reduce double-handling of mining waste and, as from FY 2016, each operation also has a ‘Latent Impact Risk Assessment’ which focuses on any impact not addressed during the life of mine. Special post-closure measures are put in place to address these latent impacts, including assigning rehabilitation funds to pay for such measures.
All of our mine sites have revised and updated their Environmental Closure Liabilities in line with legislation and have Conceptual Closure Plans in place.
The effective management of waste is an environmental priority for Petra. The Group is consistently implementing procedures to assist with waste management and disposal and waste management objectives and targets are set for each operation, with these KPIs regularly monitored through internal assessments. We optimise the recycling of waste generated at our operations and strive to prevent wastage as part of the international waste hierarchy.
During FY 2019, Petra generated 66% less combined waste (business and hazardous), and the percentage of waste recycled was 56%.
ISO 14001 specifies requirements for an environmental management system to enable an organisation to develop and implement a policy and objectives which take into account legal requirements and other requirements to which the organisation subscribes, and information about significant environmental aspects.
It applies to those environmental aspects that the organisation identifies as those which it can control and those which it can influence. It does not itself state specific environmental performance criteria.
For more information on ISO 14001, visit www.iso.org.