The South African government has put pressure on industries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through the Carbon Tax Act, which came into effect in June.
The Act provides for the imposition of a tax on the carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse-gas emissions (GHG), and addresses matters connected therewith.
“Our plans are geared towards the reduction of our GHG emissions at our operations. The dense-media separation plant at our Phalanndwa opencast operation is also fitted with carbon-reduction technologies,” explains opencast miner Canyon Coal licensing and compliance manager Liza Janse van Vuuren.
Opencast mining presents a range of pollution factors, including noise, vibration, dust and water pollution, for the environment in which it operates. As a result, mining houses should ensure that there are various measures in place throughout the life-of-mine (LoM) to mitigate the environmental impact.
Canyon Mining Services GM Howard Galloway points out that the company is aware of these risks and has implemented various operations and systems to mitigate them.
He explains that Canyon Mining Service’s operations all involve blasting operations, and that these operations are designed and undertaken to minimise the effects of noise and vibration. It also employs dust-suppression methods to minimise the creation of free and airborne dust.
Additionally, water use at the Phalanndwa operation is controlled to the point that any wastewater is completely contained within the mining area, as all the operations have pollution-control dams to keep the mine water confined within the mining area. There is also the added benefit of the water being available for reuse in processes such as dust suppression and coal treatment, adds Galloway.
He stresses that the rehabilitation of a mine area must be carried out expeditiously and to the highest possible standards. Rehabilitation areas are profiled according to preapproved designs with the intention of creating free-draining and compliant rehabilitation areas that can be returned to agricultural use at the end of the LoM.
“In cases where the rehabilitation is not up to final standard, such work is undertaken when the opportunity exists or will be done at the end of the LoM.”
Meanwhile, Canyon Coal also participated in the Bettercoal Assessment Programme since 2015, making it the first South African coal mining company to do so.
The assessment has assisted the company in determining and enhancing its impact on communities, labour and the environment.
The assessment found that Canyon Coal has a strong compliance focus, ensuring that in areas where there are clear legal requirements, the said requirements are managed and well facilitated by the company’s willingness to invest in “doing things properly”.
As a midscale junior mining company, the assessors identified that Canyon Coal can benefit from further formalising its systems, procedures and local stakeholder engagement, while maintaining a close, ‘quality’ management team.
“We have since formalised various systems and are in the process of undergoing a second round of assessments for our other mines, as we have expanded since the first assessment,” says Janse van Vuuren.
Galloway stresses that the company has a responsibility to minimise disruptions by acting responsibly and implementing the applicable laws.
Moreover, “we have the responsibility to regularly engage host communities and form mutually beneficial partnerships with them. Together, we can make compliance an attractive investment proposition, instead of the negativity that is often associated with it”.