Evaluation of the Environmental Impact Statement of the Proposed Xstrata Coal Water Reclamation Scheme Anjali Mistry Sadie Goolam Orateng Mahura Thabiso Ncube
Agenda: • • • • • • • • • • •
Environmental Impact Assessment Defined Background Information on Xstrata Coal Mining Company Objectives of the EIS Components of the EIS Impact under evaluation Existing Conditions Identification/Prediction of Potential Impacts Approach to Impact Assessment Determination of Possible Mitigation Actions and their Effectiveness Critical omissions or gaps Overall consensus on the level of concern associated with the proposed action and mitigation • References
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Defined: •
According to the glossary of Environment Statistics, EIA is defined as “an analytical process that systematically examines the possible environmental consequences of the implementation of projects, programmes and policies”. The terms 'impact assessment' and 'environmental impact assessment' are umbrella terms frequently used to cover a broad range of techniques, e.g. social impact assessment (SIA), risk assessment (RA), environmental impact assessment (EIA) and health impact assessment (HIA). Golder Associates Africa (Pty) Ltd, an independent company, conducted the EIA for this specific project, water use licence application (IWULA) and waste management licence (WML).
Background Information • •
• • •
Company: Xstrata Coal South Africa (XCSA) The world’s largest exporter of seaborne thermal coal used to generate electricity and one of the largest producers of coal used to make steel and other industrial applications. Headquarters are in Sydney and have interests in over 30 open cut and underground coal mines. Approach to sustainability: Xstrata has been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index since 2006. Xstrata Coal has a robust track record of leading practice social, environmental and ethical performance at our operations around the world, and of working cooperatively and respectfully with local communities.
Xstrata’s coal mining operations in South Africa are at Goedgevonden, Tweefontein, and iMpunzi Coal Mines (located 25 km south west of eMalahleni). • Xstrata plans to mine in areas close to the voids where water is stored. Prior to mining these areas, this water will need to be extracted to the surface. • The project is located on XCSA owned land, which is characterised by mining and agricultural activities typical of the Mpumalanga Highveld area. • The EIA evaluated, covers various important impacts of the environment such as soil, water, biological environment, noise, climate and air quality to mention a few.
Objectives of the EIS •
The objective of the project is to abstract and treat contaminated mine water accumulating within the underground operations at Goedgevonden, Tweefontein, and iMpunzi Coal Mines, which will allow mining to take place safely close to such areas, and to provide clean water to Xstrata’s potable water network and possibly to the Phola and / or Ogies Reservoir for community water supply. Any excess treated water would be discharged into the Zaaiwaterspruit. The Mine Water Reclamation Scheme will be designed to collect and treat a maximum of 45 million litres of water per day (Ml/day).
Components of the EIS: •
Collection of excess mine water from Goedgevonden, Tweefontein, and iMpunzi Coal Mines • Installation of pipeline and pumping systems to transfer excess mine water. • Construction of a water treatment plant (WTP) where mine water can be treated to potable water standards • Construction of treated water distribution system for delivery of treated water for discharge • The disposal of waste generated during the mine water treatment process (brine and sludge). A conceptual illustration of the project components is presented in the next image.
Impact evaluated: Soils, Land use and Land Capability â€˘ â€˘
A soil assessment was carried out by Rehab Green Monitoring Consultants cc. Soils baseline and impact assessments were carried out during the EIA / Environmental Management Project (EMP) process undertaken for the Tweefontein Optimisation Project (TOP), the study areas of which include parts of the WTP and Pipeline footprint.
Existing Conditions: Soils within the project area: •High agricultural potential •Area of importance from a wetland or hydrological perspective •Soils are mostly deep to deep •Seven Soil groups were identified in the Tweefontein optimization project area. •Land use capability: vary from arable to grazing to wetlands. •Seventeen soil forms were identified in the Tweefontein and Goedgevonden areas.
Existing Conditions in WTP area: •
The WTP covers a large proportion of the site (approximately half the area), it has been previously excavated and has limited soil cover. Soils and land capability: • 37.33% of the proposed plant area is classed as arable land with moderate agricultural potential. • 16.95% of the proposed plant area is classed as grazing land capability with low agricultural potential. • 45.72% of the proposed plant area is classed as wilderness land with very low to no agricultural potential. • No areas were classed as wetland.
Continued… Pre-construction land use: •27.41% of the proposed plant area is used for soybean production, probably in rotation system with maize. •26.87% of the proposed plant area was mainly used for residential purposes prior to invasion of mining activities. •45.72% of the proposed plant area was mainly used for crop farming prior to the invasion of mining activities.
Identification/Prediction of Potential Impacts: Positive Impacts Include: •The collection and treatment of contaminated water arising from the underground workings •The potential provision of potable water to the mine, and potential future users (local community and the proposed Lesedi Power Station) •The removal of water from underground voids to allow mining operations to continue •Employment and capital expenditure which will provide a boost to the local economy. .
Negative Impacts Include: •Habitat loss and degradation through vegetation clearing •Potential local loss of species of conservation importance namely the Marsh Sylph • Increases in exotic and / or declared invader species •Altered wetland hydrology due to interception / diversion / impoundments of flows •Water quality deterioration due to seepage and leakage out of the brine ponds and sludge dams and pipelines
Determination of Significant Impacts: Approach to impact assessment The EIA compiled with the requirements of the principles contained in NEMA, which included -Sustainability -Mitigation Hierarchy ď Ź The assessment of impacts of the proposed activities has been conducted within the context produced by their principles and objectives ď Ź
Methodology for assessing Impacts To assess each of these factors for impact, the following four ranking scales were used: - Magnitude -Duration -Scale -Probability ď Ź After the ranking of each impact, the significance of the 2 aspects were assessed using the formula : SP (significance points)(magnitude + duration +scale)x probability ď Ź
Methodology for assessing Impacts SP>75: Indicate high environmental impacts SP: 30-75: Moderate environmental impacts SP<30: Low Environmental Impact Additionally, variables addressed in the impact assessment matrix, each respective impact identified, the following was determined -Direction of the impact; Reversibility & Frequency Potential cumulative impacts
Determination of Possible Mitigation Actions and their Effectiveness: •
• • •
Site layout alternatives - Avoiding watercourses and wetlands as much as possible through site selection, project layout and pipeline routing undertaken in the project design process. Waste disposal alternatives - Implementing best practice measures for lining and leak detection at the sludge and brine ponds and pipeline (through pressure detection and emergency shut off systems). Minimising the construction footprint as far as possible Establishing an exotic species control programme To reduce impacts to wetlands/ streams as far possible the pipelines will be constructed on pipe bridges across the flow channels of sensitive watercourses
Critical Omissions or Gaps in the EIA: •
We have noticed that there are no critical omissions or gaps in the chosen EIA. The consulting company has provided alternatives, recommendations and public participation of affected parties have been included too.
Xstrata, as mentioned previously plays a major role in the protection of the environment and has conducted several other EIA’s, therefore, have an advantage in conducting EIA’s or rather delegating it to consulting companies who ensure there are no critical omissions or gaps. Xstrata is not new in the field of EIA.
Overall Consensus & Recommendations The positive benefits of the Project (clean water, allowing mining to continue and employment) provide a strong argument as to why the project should be approved. By identifying sensitive areas (wetlands) early in the design phase, and throughout the EIA process and avoiding these areas as far as possible, through project layout, as well as designing measures to reduce the impact on wetlands. The negative impacts have been avoided and minimised to the extent possible. By implementing best practice engineering measures (liners and leak detection systems for the sludge and brine ponds and pipelines) as well as the measures outlined in the EMP and implementing a Project to provide community potable water supply, the project should provide an overall benefit to the area, offsetting to an extent the current impacts of mining.
References: Glossary of Environment Statistics, Studies in Methods, Series F, No. 67, United Nations, New York, 1997. Xstrata Coal South Africa, 2012. Xstrata Coal. [Online] [Accessed 1 May 2014]. eMalahleni Local Municipality. (2011). eMalalheni Final Integrated Development Plan. eMalahleni: eMalahleni Local Municipality. Kotze, D., Marneweck, G. C., Batchelor, A. L., Lindley, D. S., & Collins, N. B. (2005). WET-EcoServices: A technique for rapidly assessing ecosystem services supplied by wetlands. Free State: Department of Tourism, Environmental and Economic Affairs. Kunz, R. (2004). Daily Rainfall Data Extraction Utility, Version 1.4. Low. (1997). COWLING, R.M., RICHARDSON, D.M. AND PIERCE, S.M. 1997. Vegetation of South Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. NDA. (2009). National Department of Agriculture (NDA) (2009). The Strategic Plan for Agriculture. Retrieved May 16, 2014, from http://www.nda.agric.za/docs/sectorplan/sectorplanE.htm#intro
References continuedâ€Ś Oudtshoorn, V. (1999). Guide to grasses of southern Africa. 1st Edition. Briza Pretoria. Parsons. (1995). A South African Aquifer System Management Classification. Water Research Commission Report No. KV 77/95. Picker. (2002). PICKER, M., GRIFFITHS, C., WEAVING, A. 2002. Field Guide to Insects of South Africa. Struik. Cape Town. RSA. (1999). Republic of South Africa, GOvernment Gazette, National Heritage Resources Act (N0 15 of 199). Cape Town. Steenekamp, P. I. (2007). Soil, land capability and land use assessment of Tweefontein and Goedgevonden Divisions: (Waterpan, Boschmans, Witcons and Goedgevonden Colliers). Rehab Green Monitoring Consultants CC. Report No: RG/2005/05/17. Steve Tshwete Local Municipality . (2008). Spatial Development Framework . Steve Tshwete Local Municipality .