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Environmental responsibility in Namibia

Water usage and discharge

We have two sources of water supply to our facility: domestic water and raw water. Domestic water is sourced from boreholes and fed to reservoirs. This is also the water supplied to the community. This water is used for domestic purposes.

Raw water is sourced from the old mine shaft and is used to supply water to the acid plant and to the power plant.

After the water has been through softeners, it is used for cooling and other purposes, where the brine is reclaimed. Water is also recovered as run-off from the tailings facility. This water forms part of the reclaimed water. Reclaimed water is used for conditioning chambers, filtration, copper cooling towers (at the converters), dust suppression and at tailings and wash bay.

Effluent and waste management

The hazardous waste site is designed, constructed and operated according to best international practice and is approved & permitted by the relevant Namibian authorities. The design provides for effective lining of the site, a leakage detection system, a lined pond to capture any contaminated run-off from the site, a wash bay to clean vehicles and equipment leaving the site and an irrigation system for dust suppression.

Waste is transported to the site, either in double-lined bulk bags or in bulk as a mixture of waste and water. These two methods ensure that no dust is released during the transportation and depositing on site. The waste is compacted to ensure efficient utilization of the available space. The operational area is watered every day to ensure that no dust is released.

Daily inspections are performed to evaluate compliance with company requirements. A monitoring station evaluates the air quality and surveys are carried out regularly to monitor the deposition rate at the site. Government officials regularly inspect the site, and expert consultants evaluated the site in 2014 and 2015.

Environmental reporting

Reporting on environmental performance in Tsumeb is done at various platforms and to various stakeholders. Weekly reports on validated air quality parameters, such as dust (PM10) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) to employees and the Tsumeb community via electronic information display boards, both onsite and in the town of Tsumeb. Two monthly reports are presented to the Technical Committee, (which includes delegates from government and private sector) on environmental performance regarding groundwater and air quality, verified by third-party laboratories.

Environmental best practices

We use state of the art EPA approved air quality equipment, to monitor for sulphur dioxide (SO2), arsenic (measured as PM10) as well as general PM10 dust. These data are verified and validated by third party laboratories.

For ground water monitoring we employ a multi-level groundwater monitoring methodology, which allows for the collection of discrete samples from various depths. This allows us to understand the distribution of analytes, and better equip us to manage and protect this precious resource.

Non-greenhouse gases

With the construction of the sulphuric acid plant, which was built to capture sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions and convert it into acid, there has been a marked reduction in SO2 emissions. Consequently the number of community concerns regarding SO2 emissions has significantly reduced.

Land quality

We are at the inception stage of constructing a nursery onsite, which will serve two main purposes. Firstly locally occurring plants (called metallophytes - known to efficiently accumulate metals naturally) will be used to remove metals from the soil. The second purpose will be to use some of the plants as cover to prevent the erosion of sand by wind and rain action.

Biodiversity action plan at Tsumeb

Although the smelter site at Tsumeb is far from any protected area, Namibia legislation requires that we put in place a biodiversity management plan and land use management plan. We have commissioned the development of a biodiversity action plan that would meet national as well as international standards. The ultimate goal of this plan is to reduce the impact on floral and faunal diversity in the region. Phases 1 and 2 commenced in 2014 in the dry season and phases 3 and 4 will be completed in 2015 during the wet season. Finalization of this will lead to the development of a biodiversity management plan and land use management plan for the smelter.

Annual biodiversity outreach program

In order to mark World Habitat Day 2014 we inaugurated a Biodiversity Outreach Program. High Schools in Tsumeb, as well as the Tsumeb Scouts were invited to take part in a challenge to identify indigenous trees in the surrounding area, with the aim of raising awareness about the woody vegetation in their environment, with an emphasis on protected species, as well as to familiarize them and make them at ease with the use of dichotomous keys in the identification of biota.

Coleen Mannheimer, a Namibian botanist was invited to facilitate the event and develop a course to engage participants, develop useful skills and promote knowledge of, and interest in our plant heritage. Previously a researcher at the National Botanical Research Institute and Curator of the National Herbarium, she is currently a consultant in environmental assessments and baseline vegetation studies. She is editor, author and co-author of a number of well-known books on Namibian flora.

This event is planned to be an annual event, which will be hosted as part of our environmental management program and outreach activities to promote and raise awareness of biodiversity protection.

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