Responsible Environmental Stewardship
Given the finite nature of natural resources used in our processes, we have updated our existing environmental and social impact assessments at all our DRC operations. Aligned with the International Finance Corporation Performance Standards and Equator Principles, our mine closure plans and biodiversity protection form part of the compliance process.
Energy efficiency planning
As part of a five-year energy efficiency programme, we undertook energy audits at Boss Mining, Frontier Mine and Chambishi Metals, including gathering of data, understanding best practice and identifying opportunities for improvement. These informed the preparation of business cases and implementation of action plans for 2018. The ultimate aim is to improve energy efficiency by approximately 10% across our African assets – with anticipated cost savings of US$2-3 million annually for five years.
In addition, we commissioned a hydrocarbon expert to audit the use of diesel at ERGA, to identify and address any losses or inefficiencies. This yielded a number of opportunities for improvement, ranging from the harmonisation of management models across operations to a lack of infrastructure for measuring and monitoring fuel consumption.
As with any company involved in mining, large volumes of waste rock, tailings and sludges are a by-product of our activities. Primarily classified as non-hazardous, it is managed in accordance with our established environmental management systems – as well as national legal requirements. This includes a focus on physical integrity and the prevention of groundwater and surface water pollution. In this context, our internal and external teams join forces with suitably qualified experts to conduct regular inspections of our tailings storage facilities across the Group.
Legacy waste in DRC
The Metalkol RTR project represents a unique opportunity for us to not only “do no harm”, but also to actively address decades of legacy pollution prior to our ownership. This includes a tailings-filled main river valley, open pits, waste rock dumps and dust producing facilities.
We reprocess existing tailings in and around the river valley at a low-cost hydro-metallurgical plant. This is being consolidated into a single, modern tailings storage facility constructed according to international best practice and monitored closely to ensure structural integrity and no leaching.
As the project progresses, it will under Phase 2 of its development, add 21ktpa of cobalt and 105ktpa of copper to our production portfolio. It will also progressively “clean up” the extensive legacy of environmental degradation and pollution at the site – thus improving the quality of life of local and downstream communities as well as local flora and fauna.