Exxaro report selector 2019

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Exxaro Resources Limited
Environmental, social and governance report

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Water management

We uphold our licence to operate through

  • Exxaro water management standard
  • Water authorisation
  • Site-specific water management plans:
    • Water-related risk assessment
    • Water efficiency plans and reporting
    • Stormwater controls
    • Security of supply
    • Water monitoring
    • Water balance simulation

Water is a strategic natural resource for South Africa and key to our business. Our commitment to responsible and sustainable water use is enshrined in our water management policy, which focuses on efficient use through reuse and recycling. The policy is aligned with the legislative environmental framework governed mainly by the National Water Act. In support of the Act, the Department of Water and Sanitation has issued an integrated water resource management hierarchy that prioritises mine and waste management decisions and actions. The hierarchy informs our policy and strategy on mine and wastewater management:

  • Pollution prevention
  • Minimising environmental impacts
  • Maximising water reuse and reclamation
  • Responsible water discharge and disposal
  • Water treatment.

We are committed to implementing this policy with a management standard on water for mining and industrial use that articulates an effective integrated water and waste management plan across the lifecycle of a mine, including planning, construction, operation, decommissioning, closure and rehabilitation phases. The standard further reflects management's vision to:

  • Ensure a cost-effective integrated approach to water management
  • Environmental responsibility
  • Ecological sustainability.

Water management is essential in upholding our licence to operate. The group water strategy was approved in 2017, aiming for excellence in:

  • Compliance
  • Operational water efficiency
  • Policies, standards and processes
  • Water technologies
  • Stakeholder partnerships.

A comprehensive programme entrenches responsible and sustainable water management across Exxaro. It concentrates on relevant water use and related risks — from security of supply to water efficiency and cost management — in terms of current and anticipated regulatory compliance. It is supported by continually enhancing our competence in water management issues through company-wide research and skills development. We also reinforce awareness of water issues through ongoing communication and training.

We manage water-related risks, minimise impacts and operate efficiently through reduction, reuse and recycling. Our water conservation plans support the national strategy to ensure equitable distribution of water resources that allows for business growth and sustainable consumption.

We are also committed to protecting and improving overall water quality by discharging treated water back into the system. Central to this is the reverse-osmosis water treatment plant at our Matla operation. The Matla plant, operating since 2015, can treat 10 megalitres of water per day.

We continue to collaborate with other mining houses and universities through the Coaltech research initiative in projects that provide guidelines on sustainable mine water management and mine closure, which also affords accurate final land-use planning.

The formation of the Mine Water Coordinating Body (MWCB) in 2017 further strengthens our public-private collaboration by providing a platform to align our mine water management plans with the National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS2) and to investigate regional solutions in the Olifants River catchment of Mpumalanga.

Water use

Water conservation measures and greater awareness have enabled all operations to reach the five-year target. The overall water efficiency rate improved by 9% from 2018, attributable to the sale of the North Block Complex (NBC) and the introduction of early run of mine (RoM) at our Belfast operation.

The hydrological years 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 recorded below-average annual rainfall with a sharp increase at the end of 2019.

Overall water intensity is expected to increase in 2020 due to various operational challenges, the Belfast ramp-up and forecast higher rainfall.

Water withdrawal

Business unit Target 
per tonne)
per tonne)
ECC Forzando North and South 151    70    281 797   
ECC Dorstfontein East 360    168    383 541   
ECC Dorstfontein West 134    88    112 009   
Grootegeluk 115    99    5 364 282   
Leeuwpan 92    25    165 241   
Matla 215    159    950 292   
Belfast 200    28    29 501   

Water withdrawal