Air quality management is a top priority for operational sustainability, community safety and regulatory compliance. Pollutants such as dust and particulate matter (PM), including PM10 and PM2.5, emanate from opencast mining activities such as drilling, blasting, crushing, screening, transportation, materials handling, windswept storage piles and exposed areas. These activities unavoidably generate dust, and therefore pose health and safety risks. We are responsible to our employees and host communities to minimise and avoid this impact on air quality and the environment.
A pollution-free environment is favourable to our business, people who live near our operations and the environment.
Exxaro's air quality management approach aims to reduce our impact through:
BUs use air quality management plans and systematic risk-based planning to ensure effective application of mitigation measures, regulatory compliance and stakeholder satisfaction. We consider future mine development in these plans, and regularly reassess measures and plans with detailed reviews.
Our preventive and mitigation measures uphold our licence to operate, considering our host communities and compliance with environmental legislation, particularly the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 2004 (Act 39 of 2004) and associated regulations. We comply with the conditions stipulated in our atmospheric emission licences, dust fallout limits, air quality monitoring and management, and report quantitative data on the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory System.
Although the Grootegeluk Reductants plant has an atmospheric emissions licence, it does not report on air emissions as it is currently not operational. Cennergi's windfarms are exempt from monitoring, measuring and reporting as they do not create dust and air pollution emissions.
We assess dust fallout rates monitored at our operations in terms of residential and non-residential limits outlined in the National Dust Control Regulations. These regulations allow two non‒residential and residential exceedances per operation in a year (not within sequential months). As some of our activities are close to residential areas or sensitive receptors, we aim to minimise our impact on nearby residents by intensifying dust fallout mitigation efforts through chemical suppression for mining sources such as unpaved roads, which contribute significantly to our dust emissions. We also contribute to air quality management efforts in priority areas, such as the Highveld and Waterberg-Bojanala priority areas, to reduce the cumulative impacts of pollutants on the environment and health of communities, especially given that ambient monitored data for criteria pollutants such as PM, sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) continue to be exceeded in some parts of Mpumalanga due to various sources. The cumulative air quality data for the priority areas is monitored by the DFFE. We check this data regularly to assess the air quality impacts in the priority areas and provide inputs on our mitigation measures during workshops.
Air quality management plans and collaboration with our peers, through the Coaltech Research Association and the National Association for Clean Air, support our goal to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions. We also collaborate with government through multi-stakeholder meetings on air quality management in priority areas.
Our executive head: sustainability approves air quality policies, procedures and mechanisms. Mine managers allocate capital, implement projects and monitor our impact.
Initiatives this year included installing a multi-pollutant ambient air quality monitor at Grootegeluk to continuously monitor air pollutants and design appropriate mitigation measures. We have intensified our dust suppression measures to address fugitive emissions, particularly in winter, due to the high wind speeds which result in an increase in fugitive dust emissions.
While implementing our air quality initiatives, we expand our monitoring network and systematically improve our approach to maintain our target of 100% monitoring at all operations, and to continuously increase the granularity of data.
Progressively reduce air quality emissions within our operating boundary
Critical success factors:
Dust fallout, PM10 and PM2.5 reduced at all operations
We allocated substantial resources to managing waste dumps at Grootegeluk to reduce air pollution and have reviewed our dust monitoring networks in the operations to ensure effective air quality management and compliance to the allowable number of exceedances for the residential and non-residential limits per year (two non-sequential exceedances). Our dust monitoring networks for the majority of our operations did not require changes, except for Leeuwpan. We reviewed Leeuwpan's air quality management system based on changes in mining operations. The objective was to avoid source monitoring and ensure a comprehensive and representative monitoring network.
We invested in an advanced digital solution for real-time emissions monitoring. From 2023, we will be able to monitor a broad spectrum of emissions, including methane (CH4), SO2 and NOx.
Continuous dust fallout monitoringTarget: All operations
Continuous PM10 monitoringTarget: All operations
Meteorological monitoring to ensure availability of surface data for temperature, wind direction and wind speed (critical for dispersion modelling, baseline characterisation, ambient monitoring design, dust fallout monitoring and reporting, among others)Target: All operations
Ensuring compliance with dust fallout limits and air quality standardsTarget: Level below regulated limits
Air quality awareness and education campaigns for various stakeholdersTarget: Quarterly
Opencast mining operations unavoidably generate dust. Mitigation measures to reduce the significant impacts on the environment and our host communities include:
In addition to traditional dust suppression methods, we plant trees as windbreaks at the Belfast operations.
None of our BUs exceeded the number of allowable exceedances (two per year) for the residential and non-residential dust fallout limits. Two exceedances are allowable for each dust fallout limit category (residential and non-residential) per year. Our objective is to comply with the residential and non-residential dust fallout limits.
|Dust fallout rate
|Non-residential dust fallout exceedances
|Two exceedances per BU per year (within sequential months)
|9 across 6 BUs
|Residential dust fallout exceedances
|Two exceedances per BU per year (within sequential months)
|2 at Matla
We aim to intensify mitigation efforts through chemical suppression of dust on primary haul roads to increase dust suppression efficiencies in the third quarter of 2023. This is critical given that unpaved haul roads are significant contributors to fugitive dust in our operations.