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A cleaner, greener future for South Africa’s Coal

In the age of worsening pollution crises and global warming, individuals, communities and industry are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of the way we live and work at the dawn on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The world’s critical dependence on fossil fuels has, in recent years, been brought into the spotlight, as the need for more sustainable and renewable solutions becomes more urgent.

 

At Exxaro, we know better than most just how challenging this mandate will be to fulfill, but we remain committed to being part of the solution as South Africa works towards setting an example of sustainable development for the rest of the continent, and indeed, the world.

 

It’s all about balance. Coal has long been known as a “dirty” source of energy – requiring vast human and natural resources, with the potential to adversely affect the health of those who work at the mines, the surrounding ecosystems, and the communities that depend on them.

 

And yet the coal industry remains a key pillar of the South African economy without which we could not survive. Coal mining is the third-largest employer in the mining sector, with over 87 000 employees. Coal is also South Africa’s third most valuable source of foreign exchange, after platinum and gold. It’s no exaggeration, therefore, to say that without our coal sector, South Africa would be left crippled.

 

As we mark World Environment Day this month, Exxaro is proud to renew our pledge – and share our plan – to lead South Africa’s coal sector into a new way of working, and one that will see South Africa’s energy sector and economy continue to flourish for decades to come, while minimising the negative impact of our operations.

 

Through strict adherence to policies designed to address the environmental impact of our operations, sustainability is built into everything we do – monitored by two board-mandated entities: the Sustainability, Risk and Compliance Committee as well as the Social and Ethics Committee.

 

Natural resources like water, air, biodiversity and land are central to our business. We focus on responsible use by conserving natural resources and reducing the burden of pollutants on the environment through:

 

  • Ensuring all activities are properly authorised
  • Complying with all statutory environmental requirements as a minimum
  • Using energy and water as efficiently as possible
  • Conducting activities responsibly from the twin perspectives of compliance and natural resource use
  • Actively participating in voluntary benchmarks, such as the global carbon and water disclosure projects
  • Developing innovative policies and programmes to address environmental impacts and use of natural resources.

The full extent of our efforts to meet and exceed compliance levels when it comes to environmental impact is outlined in the 2017 Exxaro Supplementary Report – freely available to view here.

 

With careful management, innovative policies and a spirit of full accountability, an ecologically friendly, economically prosperous and energy-abundant South Africa is within reach – and Exxaro is proud to set the benchmark for the rest of our local coal sector to strive towards; not only on World Environment Day, but every day and long into the future.