Consolidation of Environmental Authorisations for the Sasol Mining (Pty) Ltd. Impumelelo Mine

Project Background

Sasol Mining is an existing coal mining company situated in close proximity to Secunda, located approximately 16 km south-east of Kinross and 26 km south-west of Bethal in the Mpumalanga Province.  Sasol Mining has been mining coal in the Secunda area for more than 30 years.  The main purpose of Sasol Mining’s Secunda operations is to supply coal to Sasol Synfuels, which utilises various processes and beneficiates the coal into a number of products such as petrol, diesel, plastics and various chemicals.

In order to continue to satisfy existing market requirements of Synfuels, Sasol Mining has recently developed the Impumelelo Mine (also previously known as Block 2).  The Impumelelo Mine is located to the south-west of Secunda, east of Greylingstad and north-west of Standerton in the Mpumalanga Highveld.  The Impumelelo Mine commenced with operations in 2014 and has replaced the Brandspruit Mine operation.

The existing Impumelelo Mine consists of an area of approximately 30 000 ha in size.  Coal is mined from the site utilising a combination of underground mining methods (bord and pillar, and high extraction / stooping).  A conveyor from the Impumelelo Mine to the existing Sasol Coal Supply (SCS) blending plant located close to Brandspruit Colliery has been constructed, and is in regular use.  The servitude for the conveyor belt includes a service road, water pipelines, power and communication lines.

Project Overview

Sasol Mining operates the Impumelelo Mine in line with several different approvals due to extensions and amendments that were applied for on the initial approvals.  Sasol Mining wishes to consolidate their various approvals into two single working documents to streamline the mining and the management thereof for both the mine and the Competent Authorities that oversee the activities.  The two documents to be compiled are:

  • A single Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Environmental Management Programme Report (EMPR) to consolidate the two EMPRs and four approvals currently applicable to the mine.  This document has been compiled to comply with the requirements of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Act (MPRDA), 2002 (Act No. 28 of 2002), as amended, and the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (NEMA) (Act 107 of 1998), as amended.
  • A single Integrated Integrated Water and Waste Management Programme (IWWMP) to consolidate the approved Water Use Licence (WUL) and various associated amendments and general authorisation confirmations.  This document is intended to comply with the requirements of the National Water Act, 1998 (NWA) (Act 36 of 1998).

Sasol Mining does not intend to change or alter any of the approved activities included in the existing approvals, but does wish to consolidate the various documents to bring them in line with the latest requirements as well as in line with the approved Mining Right Boundary area.

Legislative Requirements – Consolidation of Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Environmental Management Programme Report (EMPR)

Sasol Mining does not require approval of any new activities in terms of the MPRDA (2002) and the NEMA (1998).  As there is not a legislated process for the consolidation of documents, the Competent Authority (the Department of Mineral Resources, DMR) was consulted and have advised that the EIR and EMPR can be consolidated without following the process for Environmental Authorisation due to the fact that no new activities or changes to approved activities are applicable.  The DMR does, however, require the consolidated document to be subject to a Public Consultation Process.

Legislative Requirements – Water Use Licence (WUL)

The NWA (1998) requires an applicant to follow the Water Use Licence Application (WULA) process for all and any changes to a WUL.  Sasol Mining will therefore be following the formal application process for the consolidation of their approved WULs for the Impumelelo Mine.

Purpose of this Background Information Summary

It is the purpose of this Background Information Document to form part of the environmental application processes undertaken in terms of the requirements of the:

  1. The National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act no 107 of 1998) and the Regulations thereunder.
  2. The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (Act 28 of 2002), as amended December 2014, and the Regulations thereunder.
  3. The National Water Act, 1998 (Act 36 of 1998), and the Regulations thereunder.

Sasol Mining (Pty) Ltd. has appointed Clean Stream Environmental Consultants (Pty) Ltd. (CSEC), as required by Regulation 12(1) of the NEMA (1998), as the independent Environmental Assessment Practitioner (EAP), for the purpose of consolidating their approved EIRs and EMPRs as well as applying for a WUL in order to consolidate and replace their various Water related approvals (Water Use Licences and confirmations of General Authorisations).

Specialist Studies and Assessment of Impacts

As this project entails the consolidation of existing approvals, no new / additional specialist studies were undertaken, however all the previous studies undertaken were referenced and were applicable new monitoring data was also included in the document to describe the baseline as well as the current status of the environment.  Impacts were assessed in line with the legislative requirements and available information, and are in line with the impacts identified as part of the approved documents.

Possible Environmental Impacts

The NEMA (1998) requires that the anticipated environmental, social, and cultural impacts be identified and described.

The impacts identified have been assessed in detail as part of the compilation of the previously approved documents, and are again included in the consolidated documentation.  The following are some of the most notable impacts that may be associated with the Impumelelo Mine in the long term:

  1. Some noise may be generated by activities at and near the surface infrastructure areas.
  2. The underlying geology of the area may be disrupted.
  3. The groundwater quantity may be negatively affected due to the practising of high extraction mining.
  4. Subsidence may occur due to underground mining.
  5. Catchment yield may be affected.
  6. It is anticipated that a pollution plume and decant will develop after cessation of mining.

Benefits of the Project

The Impumelelo Mine is expected to have the following benefits over its life of mine:

  1. Sasol Mining will continue supplying jobs to its current employees.
  2. The surrounding communities will continue to benefit through direct and indirect income; as well as the mine’s use of local contractors and suppliers.
  3. The surrounding communities will benefit by the implementation of the approved mine Social and Labour Plan.
  4. Sasol Mining will continue to supply coal to the existing plant, which produces various products to market (including coal for power, fuel, etc.).

Closure Objectives

After mining has been completed, Sasol Mining (Pty) Ltd is committed to rehabilitate the site to a status as close as possible to that of the pre-mining status.  In order to achieve this, the following closure objectives are included in the EIR and EMPR

  1. Rehabilitate any subsided land to be free draining, and vegetated (if required).
  2. Ensure all rehabilitated areas are free of alien invasive plant species and self-sustaining in terms of vegetation community.
  3. Ensure that any long-term impacts to groundwater have been effectively managed.

Role of Interested and Affected Parties

A Public Participation Process (PPP) is being conducted as part of the consolidation process.  The involvement of the public in the applicable process is required by the NEMA (1998) and the Regulations thereunder as well as the NWA (1998) and the regulations thereunder.  The PPP will provide Interested and Affected Parties (I&APs) with a platform to voice any matters or issues relating to the consolidation project.  An I&AP is any person, group of persons or organisation interested in or affected by the proposed project, or any organ of state that may have jurisdiction over any aspect of the operation or activity.

Register as an I&AP

To register as an I&AP of this project, which will enable you to obtain more information and / or submit comments, please complete the Registration Form.

During the course of the Consolidation Process for the EIAR Phase of the project, I&APs will be afforded the following opportunities to be involved in the proposed project:

  1. Complete and submit the I&AP registration form.
  2. Review the draft EIAR and EMPR.
  3. Directly contact the Environmental Assessment Practitioner (Clean Stream Environmental Consultants (Pty) Ltd. (CSEC)).

Please note that in the interests of Social Distancing around the current applicable COVID-19 regulations, no public meeting is proposed, however you are more than welcome to reach out to CSEC who will assist you with any queries you may have on the project.

Your input to the project is important to the process, and may help to identify aspects that need to be considered during the assessment of impacts and alternative project options.  Your involvement in the public participation process would, therefore, be valued and appreciated.

Availability of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report and the Environmental Management Programme Report for Public Comment

The Draft EIAR and EMPR will be made available to the public for review for a period of thirty (30) days from 09 April 2021 to 11 May 2021.

Hard copies of the document have been made available at the Sasol Mining (Pty) Ltd. Impumelelo Mine security office, and the Val Hotel.  An electronic copy of the document is be available below.  A register and comment sheet will accompany the documents at the public viewing stations.  Please complete the register subsequent to reviewing the document.  Alternatively e-mail or fax your comments to Clean Stream Environmental Consultants (Pty) Ltd. (details provided below).

Comments on Water Uses

Comments on the Water Uses and WUL are also invited.  The project entails the consolidation of the approved documents, and not any new activities that were not previously assessed. (Note that there may be some changes to the approved document requested such as additional borehole locations in order to reach the approved dewatering volumes, etc.).   Water Uses at the Impumelelo Mine include the following:

  • Section 21(a): Taking water from a water resource (removing water to allow for underground mining as well as taking water for domestic purposes and for mining and related activities).
  • Section 21(b): storing water (reservoirs to hold potable water).
  • Section 21(c) and (i): impeding or diverting the flow of a watercourse and altering the bed, banks course or characteristics of a watercourse (conveyor belt that crosses watercourses; access roads that cross watercourses and all other activities within 500 meters of a wetland or watercourse).
  • Section 21(e): engaging in a controlled activity (irrigation of gardens at and around the office complex).
  • Section 21(f): discharging waste or water containing waste into a water resource through a pipe, canal, sewer, sea outfall or other conduit (discharging of treated sewage effluent into the environment).
  • Section 21(g): disposing of waste in a manner which may detrimentally impact on a water resource (pollution control dams, underground water storage compartments, dust suppression and stockpile areas).
  • Section 21(j): removing, discharging or disposing of water found underground if it is necessary for the efficient continuation of an activity or for safety of people (removing water to allow for mining activities underground).

Comments on the Water Uses are invited for a 60 period from 09 April 2021 until 11 June 2021, and must be submitted to CSEC at the contact details provided on the back page of this document.

Download the document to review

Appendix A – Approvals

Appendix B – EAP Expertise

Appendix C – Plans

Appendix D – Specialist studies

Appendix E – Social and Labour Plan

Appendix F – Public consultation

Appendix G – Monitoring Reports

Appendix H – Sasol Impact Matrix

Appendix I – Financial Provision

Appendix H – Emergency Preparedness and Response Procedure