Exxaro is committed to environmental excellence, including the healthy co-existence of our operations and the natural environment. Projects in 2019 included an alien invader eradication programme, pan research, wetland rehabilitation and offset, and biodiversity relocation.
The purpose of monitoring, control and eradication of invasive alien plant species identified on Exxaro sites is to avoid the following:
Exxaro is currently implementing alien management plans at Matla, Leeuwpan, Belfast and ECC. Grootegeluk has developed a similar plan that will be implemented in 2020.
Our monitoring programme measures the success of control and eradication, and records the distribution of categories 1a, 1b, 2 and 3 listed invasive species on Exxaro sites.
Belfast is committed to environmental excellence as well as investment in environmental research, including independent scientific research of pans (depression wetlands) in close proximity to the operation. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has been appointed to determine the natural hydrological drivers and anthropogenic stressors of pans in the vicinity of the mine as part of continuous monitoring.
Exxaro has successfully rehabilitated the wetland on Arnot Mooifontein portion 5. The project, which began in September 2018 and was completed in June 2019, entailed re-establishment of the wetland and improvement of water quality in the system. It was undertaken by Ritluka Resources with supervision by GroundTruth.
Another wetland rehabilitation project is currently underway at Belfast where GroundTruth is providing ecological and engineering implementation support for the duration of rehabilitation activities on site.
The wetland rehabilitation plan is being implemented in two phases: the first focuses primarily on the Klein Komati River and proximal systems, and the second phase is in wetland systems closer to the edge of the Exxaro property boundary.
Wetland rehabilitation activities began in October 2019 and are due to be completed towards the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021.
Grootegeluk embarked on an offset study in 2019, including implementation and monitoring to reassess proposed offset areas. The second phase of the methodology for the proposed proof-of-concept study, aimed at determining the viability of recreating or relocating seasonal pans, also began in 2019. The outcomes of the study are expected to be implemented by mid-2020.
Leeuwpan has drafted an offset strategy as part of the Block OI project to be implemented in 2020.
A wetland offset strategy is planned for ECC as part of the Dorstfontein East expansion project due to be completed in 2020.
Belfast has appointed GroundTruth to develop a biodiversity relocation strategy, and to implement the screening, relocation and monitoring of protected species. Four protected plant species will be relocated: Brunsvigia radulosa, Dierama cf pauciflorum, Dierama sp and Watsonia cf pulchra. Only one species of fauna is due to be relocated in 2020: the baboon spider (Harpactira hamiltoni).
Grootegeluk received protected tree permits from the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries in 2019 so that impacted protected trees could be removed from the site. The mine also purchased 200 trees for replanting.