Johannesburg - A Cape Town-based environmental law lobby group has thrown down the gauntlet to Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) shareholders, calling on them to take Amplats to task for environmental violations at the annual general meeting (AGM) last Friday.
The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) said last week that the shareholders at Amplats – the world’s biggest platinum producer – owed it to themselves to ask tough questions about environmental adherence.
The CER said Amplats’ 2015 Sustainability Development Report stated its mining operations were only 92 percent compliant with Environment Management Programmes (EMPRs) commitments, and that its process operations were only 93 percent compliant with EMPR commitments.
“Given that compliance with environment legislation, and with the conditions attached to mining licences, EMPRs, environmental authorisations and water use licences are not optional, it is concerning that the company considers it acceptable to be in non-compliance with such an array of actions,” the CER said.
It wanted shareholders to enquire if Amplats was committed to 100 percent compliance to environment laws and how many times the company’s facilities had been inspected by regulatory authorities for compliance with environmental law.
It also wanted answers on how many times Amplats’ facilities had been inspected by regulatory authorities for compliance with environmental laws and permits in the past financial year.
But on Friday, Amplats shareholders did not address the compliance concerns at the AGM. Instead, the company posted a detailed response on its website saying it was committed to environmental laws.
“Anglo American Platinum is committed to ensure 100 percent compliance with South African legislation and remains transparent in its reporting to the public,” the company said.
Amplats said in the past financial year there had been eight inspections by the Department of Water and Sanitation and four inspections by the Department of Environmental Affairs.
There had been no directives against the company, it added.
Environmental authorisations last year contained more than 5 000 legal commitments for the mining and process operations, Amplats said.
“Although the intent is to comply with all commitments, it does happen that active operations do fall behind on commitments due to different reasons including staggered budgets, change of personnel, new and changed legislation, and pending environmental authorisations.”
“To ensure operations retain focus, all commitments are reviewed at least annually through an internal review process,” the company said.
Amplats was issued with pre-directive notice from the Department of Water and Sanitation at its Bokoni Mine in May last year for using waste water for dust suppression and had taken action to address the concerns.
The notice followed another one issued in 2014 ordering the company not to dispose waste rock from its Modikwa mine on both the right and left banks of the Moopetsi River.
The department has since endorsed the mine’s plan to rectify concerns at the Modikwa mine.
Meanwhile, Amplats said it had received three complaints from employees in Rustenburg about exposure to gases.