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Coal major navigates green transition

Image of company representatives sitting in a panel discussion

COAL MINE GOING GREEN Members participating in a panel discussion at the Deloitte Sustainability Summit Africa, on the topic of leadership dealing with a crisis, including Deloitte human capital director Sthembiso Phakathi, Deloitte director George Tshesane, Exxaro Resources sustainability executive head Mongezi Veti, Allen and Overy attorney Gillian Niven, and Nestlé senior innovation and renovation manager Fanny Mabotja

25th August 2023

By: Bridget Lepere

Creamer Media Reporter

     

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One of South Africa’s top five coal-producing mining companies, Exxaro Resources, with a diversified portfolio of major projects in the minerals and energy sectors, is driving its plans to boost its environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials to move away from coal mining and towards the mining of energy-transition minerals. Such minerals include copper, manganese and bauxite.

Sustainability has been one of Exxaro’s key undertakings since 2010, Exxaro sustainability executive head Mongezi Veti told Mining Weekly at the Deloitte Sustainability Summit, held at Deloitte’s offices in Midrand, Gauteng, last month.

The summit was attended by a panel of sustainability experts, law makers and innovators, who discussed the role leaders can play in developing and implementing programmes and initiatives regarding supply chain sustainability.

For the company, this shift occurred after the seventeenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, in 2011, when the company realised it had to lessen its climate change impact and transition away from coal.

To do so, as well as to support South Africa’s energy security, Exxaro, together with its renewable-energy solutions subsidiary Cennergi, developed projects for bidding into the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.

Cennergi commissioned two wind farms in 2016 – the 134 MW Amakhala Emoyeni Wind Farm near Bedford, and the 95 MW Tsitsikamma Community Wind Farm, near Jeffreys Bay – that will produce electricity that will be transmitted to the national grid from the Eastern Cape, where the wind farms are based.

Another Exxaro initiative is the company’s Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) programme, which has provided small enterprise funding in excess of R900-million since 2018.

Funding from the ESD programme has been awarded to small enterprises largely in the form of zero-interest loans, which allows for reallocation to others upon repayment.

“It is so gratifying to see people who came to us at the beginning of their organisation’s journey and to see them thriving. We are proud of the number of fantastic entrepreneurs that we have supported,” he said during the summit.

Waste Water Treatment, Renewable Energy

Exxaro has also adopted the circular economy concept, whereby it considers waste from a new perspective.

The company’s contribution also extends to water treatment, which is being undertaken in partnership with Eskom, and involves water from Exxaro’s Matla underground mine being recycled and pumped into the water treatment plant for use at Eskom’s Matla power station, in Mpumalanga, while another portion will be released into the water course for use by downstream farmers and communities.

“We have designed key performance indicators in terms of water efficiency so that the water we save can be given to communities and . . . used for other purposes. We measure our efficiencies yearly so that our stakeholders and board can see that we take the issue of water seriously.”

Another key performance indicator was energy, as most of the electricity produced in South Africa was derived from coal, thus failing to conserve energy would be counterproductive to climate change mitigation measures, Veti added.

Meanwhile, Exxaro also contributed towards buying 20 000 ℓ of water, valued at R100 000, for the community of Hammanskraal, in Tshwane, to provide fresh drinking water in response to the cholera outbreak in May this year.

Exxaro aims to be carbon neutral by 2050 and has developed a road map to achieve this through meeting specific targets at five-year intervals. One of these targets is to move away from investment in new coal projects.

Edited by Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

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