Exxaro Resources limited
Environmental, social and governance report 2021

Waste management

At Exxaro, we understand that mining activities create various waste streams, including but not limited to mining waste, general waste, hazardous waste and scope 3 GHG emissions through the transportation of waste. To address and manage these impacts, we develop policies and procedures that align with leading practices, ensuring we leave a positive legacy for future generations. We uphold our licence to operate through:
  • Following a cradle-to-grave approach to waste management
  • Encouraging innovative waste solutions
  • Management procedures (including waste classification and reporting)
  • Authorisation (waste management licences)
  • Waste handling, transportation and disposal methods
  • Waste efficiency reports
  • Waste classification

Our ultimate waste management goal is to attain zero waste operations through embracing a cradle-to-grave approach.


The responsible and successful management of waste is critical to maintain our licence to operate and an important part of how we minimise environmental degradation. We have a group environmental policy and waste management standard for hazardous and non-hazardous waste. Our waste management standard enforces a hierarchy that promotes prevention, minimisation, reuse, recycling and energy recovery while ensuring safe waste disposal in line with the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act 59 of 2008) and supporting legislation.

We regularly review our environmental policy and management standards to ensure they remain relevant and consistent with any changes or updates in legislation that could impact our operations. The policy was reviewed and updated in 2021 to focus on environmental issues.

Our environmental policy includes initiatives such as waste prevention, reuse, recycling, energy recovery and safe waste disposal to reduce environmental and health risks. Exxaro's BUs receive a rebate for recycling waste such as paper, used oil and scrap metals. 

KPIs aligned with the FTSE Russell sustainability and ESG indices drive continuous improvements.

To ensure we align with leading practices, Exxaro also supports the:

  • Proximity principle, which highlights a need to treat and/or dispose of waste in reasonable proximity to their point of generation
  • Duty of care, which stipulates that the waste generator has a citizenship and ethical obligation to handle their waste properly and with care
  • Precautionary principle, which requires the waste generator to take precautions to avoid environmental damage

As far as possible, we support a cradle-to-grave approach to waste management. This approach ensures we use waste from one process in another, reducing and ultimately eliminating the waste generated. We see this as an opportunity for the business that aligns with the concept of a circular economy. We continue exploring solutions that support this approach.

See our off-the-road tyre case study for more information.

Each mine is responsible for managing general and hazardous waste. In compliance with the South African Waste Information System, sites that produce more than 20kg/day must be registered and retain certificates of compliance with regulatory requirements.

Exxaro's operations do not have on-site waste treatment processes. Contractors clean oil and hydrocarbon spills and remove the waste to hazardous landfills. Medical professionals manage waste produced by our Matla and Grootegeluk on-site clinics.

We collaborate with government, research institutions and industrial partners to monitor technological developments of waste stream conversions that address climate change and job creation.

Exxaro takes part in discussion with of Business Unity South Africa and Minerals Council, where waste-related issues are deliberated and shared with other mining companies. We participate in the Waste Industry Forum and waste management initiatives as directed by the DFFE.

Furthermore, we invest in waste management research and development to identify new technologies that ensure the safe handling of materials.

No waste-related grievances were lodged in 2021.

Accountability and responsibility

The implementation of our policy and practices at an operational level is overseen by the sustainability manager supported by the senior environmental specialists and on-site environmental specialists, practitioners and interns under the leadership of the executive head: sustainability. 


Our waste management team focused on implementing initiatives to better classify, manage and reduce our waste across our BUs as we embrace our cradle-to-grave approach and the ultimate goal of attaining zero waste operations. Our waste streams were previously classified in 2013, and we intend on redoing this assessment to better classify and manage our performance.

Grootegeluk Belfast Matla Leeuwpan Renewable energy

 At Grootegeluk, our tyre waste project  is ongoing. The temporary waste tyre  storage area's fire protection system  was finalised and the stacking was  completed per the approved layout.

 Our Belfast mine has waste handling contracts for general  and  hazardous waste, and a monthly on-site service that was  awarded to local communities as part of Exxaro's ESD  initiatives. A waste reporting dashboard system was  established to track the volume of waste generated, recycled  and disposed of off site to registered landfill.

 Our Matla operation has established waste recycling stations,  with sorting at the source, managed by an external service  provider. The Matla team won the Evergreen award this year  for reducing the cost of hazardous waste handling following  training interventions. This award recognises various internal  top performers.

 At Leeuwpan, the  optimisation of the sewage  treatment plant was  completed. The plant is  operating more efficiently.

 Material waste at Cennergi's two facilities  include general waste, oil rags and used oil.  Waste separation is implemented at source  to increase recycling where possible and  minimise the amount of waste going to  landfill.

General waste

Exxaro's general waste consists of recyclable domestic waste (including plastics, polymers, cardboards, metal cans and papers), non-hazardous recyclable industrial waste (rubber, steel and plastic industrial products) and inert, non-recyclable waste (such as rubble and demolition waste). Waste is separated at source and we appoint third-party specialised companies for the recycling, collection and safe disposal of our general waste.

Waste recycling

Our recycling systems are managed by third-party specialised companies that offer training and skills development on the proper management of general waste and sorting between recyclables and non-recyclables. Our BUs receive rebates from selling scrap metals and conveyor belts. We also incorporate recycling initiatives into our SLPs to empower and uplift local communities where possible.

Following the revision of our waste stream assessment, we aim to improve our waste recycling targets. We plan to raise our recycling targets to achieve 80% to 85% diversion of recyclable waste to landfill sites. This initiative is targeted for 2025 and will explore alternatives, research and development technologies in waste reduction or avoidance, and opportunities for procuring new equipment that will enable us to support our commitment to the circular economy concept.

Our general waste recycled increased 7% in 2021 to 3 018t (2020: 2 914t), with a 5% increase in recyclable and reclaimed waste noted at Grootegeluk following targeted focus in this area.

General waste materials recycled (t) 2021 2020 2019
Ferrous and non-ferrous scrap 2 950 2 860 2 746
Paper 28 22 30
High-density polyethylene 34 29 42
Plastics 6 3 0
Total 3 018 2 914 2 818

Hazardous waste

Exxaro's BUs capture hazardous waste volumes monthly including contaminated soil, medical waste, used personal protective equipment (PPE) and sewage.

The total weight of hazardous waste generated at our managed coal operations and sent to landfill in 2021 decreased by 66% to 520t (2020: 1 511t). This is due to proper handling of hazardous waste and not mixing hazardous waste with general waste. This is also because ECC's* waste figures are excluded in this reporting due to the divestment process.

* Divestment concluded in September 2021.

Hazardous waste sent to landfill (t)

Hazardous waste sent to landfill

COVID-19 medical waste

We added COVID-19 medical waste (masks, gloves and screening waste) as a new stream of hazardous waste. We therefore had to rethink our approach to hazardous medical waste. This waste is disposed separately into medical waste containers and taken off site by our medical waste disposal contractor for incineration. The relevant disposal certificates are issued.

The additional FTSE KPI added in this reporting is total costs of environmental fines and penalties during the financial year.

There were no environmental fines and penalties issued for waste.


Looking ahead, our focus remains on:

  • Improving our disclosure
  • Finalising our environmental policy
  • Updating our waste classification study to quantify the impacts of each waste stream, and identify methods to reduce, avoid and mitigate each waste stream, and the associated cost implications
  • Raising our recycling targets to achieve 80% to 85% diversion of recyclable waste to landfill sites by 2025
  • Upgrading and expanding the infrastructure at landfill sites
  • Creating linkages between recyclers and recycling buyers using innovative technology
  • Facilitating micro-enterprise training and development
  • Facilitating access to funding
Belfast BU

Waste management team at our Belfast BU


Grootegeluk waste tyre project

Applying our cradle-to-grave approach to waste management

Following a notice of non-compliance with the on-site storage of old used waste tyres, a waste tyre storage facility was built at Grootegeluk to ensure that our tyres are disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner. This facility had around 1 000 off-the-road waste tyres in a designated area with controlled access, stockpile and stacking plans, and fire prevention measures.

Ensuring that our waste disposal approach supports the circular economy principles, we have appointed a waste tyre processing company to generate value from our waste tyres. The contractor uses these old tyres to create rubber crumbs and chips used for
various processes, creating value out of waste. For example, a coal substitute, tyre-derived fuel is created from waste tyre chips, used in industrial processes. All the historic tyres are removed and processed. Discussions around removing new tyres have started between Exxaro and the Waste Bureau.

This project helps us manage our historic and current waste tyres through applying the cradle-to-grave principle, which supports our environmental stewardship, ensures our environmental compliance and reduces our liabilities. This is taking Exxaro into a cradle-to-cradle principle in managing our waste. The waste management standard will be updated to apply the cradle-to-cradle principle.

The project will be rolled out to other BUs.

Performance 2021 2020
Waste tyres removed/processed 1 000 500
Waste tyres

Waste tyres sorted by wear and tear at the Grootegeluk BU

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