Sustainable development

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Water is a scarce resource in Southern Africa and potential mining impacts on this precious resource are crucial to the management of water on the national scale. Thermal Coal's New Vaal Colliery is situated on the banks of the Vaal River in South Africa’s Free State province. The environmental sensitivity of the area in which the coal mine operates meant that the operation embraced water management well before new approaches were introduced to the country two decades ago.

As a mining company water is integral to every aspect of our business. This is a challenge when more than 70% of our operations are in water stressed areas, such as principally developing economies where demand for water is increasing. Managing scarce water resources at existing operations is often tricky, but when you are faced with a significant expansion in a water scarce area you have no choice but to innovate. This is the challenge faced by our Los Bronces copper operations in the Chilean Andes, 50km north-east of Santiago.

Anglo American embeds the principles of sustainable development throughout its operations: from the moment we identify a possible exploration site, all the way to a mine's eventual closure. We believe that maximizing value over the long term is best achieved through an intelligent regard for all our stakeholders, and by acting with integrity and responsibility in accordance with our values.

A critical water-related challenge that we face at our Metallurgical Coal operations in Australia is the significant variability in rainfall. Our operations are located in regions that at times oscillate between severe drought and flood conditions. Current scientific evidence suggests that climate change may result in a further increase in rainfall variability in the long term.

A new seawater desalination plant will help improve the critical water shortage in Chile’s Atacama region.

Anglo American recognises the challenge posed by climate change and our responsibility to take action to address its causes and to protect our employees and assets, as well as our communities, against its potential impacts.

Anglo American is the largest single shareholder in MBD Energy, which has developed proprietary processes for the commercial farming of algae. The company uses waste carbon dioxide (CO2) as its primary feedstock, to produce carbon neutral oil and animal feed.

eMalahleni is one of the fastest growing urban areas in South Africa. It is a municipality of 510,000 people in a water-stressed region in the north-east of the country, and has faced considerable difficulties in meeting increased demand for drinking water.

We have set a goal of achieving the maximum economically sustainable energy and Green House Gas (GHG) savings in our business and in the use of our products. One of Anglo American’s three strategic focus areas in respect of addressing the causes of climate change and protecting our employees and asset, as well as our communities, against its potential impacts, is operational excellence.

The devastating flood that in December 2010 hit the small town of Theodore in Queensland, Australia, approximately 50 km from Metallurgical Coal’s Dawson mine, prompted a quick response from a committed team of mine employees.

A desalination plant at our Moranbah North mine in Queensland, Australia, is now producing two million litres of potable water every day, since becoming operational in March 2010. Benefiting the surrounding environment as well as operations, it’s just another way we are maximising our water resources.

Alternative water heating methods are just one way our Thermal Coal business is increasing engagement and awareness among employees around energy efficiency, while also reducing pressure on South Africa’s national grid.

Our Thermal Coal business in South Africa has started a public participation process for the construction of a power generation facility that will convert low-quality discard coal from its Greenside, Landau and Kleinkopje collieries into electricity. A third party will design, construct, own and operate the 450 Megawatt (MW) modular plant, which uses circulating fluidised bed technology.

Anglo American has developed coal-seam methane-fired power stations at Moranbah North and Capcoal in Queensland, Australia. Powered by waste gas from the mine, these facilities currently generate a combined 77 MW of power, which is the equivalent of planting 3.6 million trees or taking 580,000 cars off the road.

As the role of platinum in making the transition to a low carbon economy becomes ever more prominent, Anglo American has launched a $13.8 million fund to invest in platinum-based technology companies in South Africa. Our partnership with fuel cell company Altergy and the South African government to manufacture and market fuel cell systems locally and in other sub-Saharan countries is just one example where this funding is already having a positive impact.

Our water efficiency target tool (WETT) was piloted at seven sites before being introduced across the Group. The WETT pilot at Platinum achieved a 21% improvement in water efficiency during the first year of its implementation. With the initial focus being on capturing the more visible ‘quick wins’, it is anticipated that further efficiency gains will be realised.

When our thermal coal business in South Africa established the Emalahleni water reclamation plant to eliminate the challenges posed by rising underground mine water, it improved the safety of the mines it supports and of our employees. The benefits, however, have been far broader.

As both a substantial consumer of energy and a major supplier of coal, we need to work on minimising our carbon emissions while also helping our customers to reduce theirs.

Our Platinum business has implemented a number of energy-efficient projects, including lighting, optimising air compressors and improving the ventilation fan systems.

When it comes to coal mining, methane is unfortunately part and parcel of the job. Recognising the harm to the environment and potential dangers the gas posed to our workforce, Johan Janse van Rensburg decided to do something about it.

The Hunter Valley in New South Wales is one of the most important biodiversity regions in Australia and we are doing everything we can to ensure it stays that way.

As a global leader in water purification technology, our thermal coal business in South Africa is employing its water treatment and reclamation technology to minimise any future risk of acid mine drainage, a challenge inherent in the coal mining industry.

Working with key stakeholders for more than a decade, our platinum business has been at the forefront of the Eastern Limb water project, which will provide almost two million people in South Africa’s Limpopo province with a clean, safe and reliable water supply for the first time. The scarcity of this natural resource is one of the mining industry’s greatest risks and threatens the development and sustainability of our operations in this area.

A herd of zebra grazes off the lush green savannah while, nearby, a new-born blue wildebeest takes its first hesitant steps under the watchful gaze of its mother.

Tarmac has become the first UK quarrying company to have site-specific Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) in place at all of its active quarries. The company has created individual plans for 120 of its sites as part of its commitment to ensure that biodiversity is embedded into the operation of each quarry.

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has been involved in five of Anglo American’s Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) peer reviews at operations in South Africa, Brazil, Namibia and the UK during 2008.

Emalahleni water reclamation plant, a joint development between Anglo American Thermal Coal and BHP Billiton near Witbank in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, was originally intended to provide a solution to the operational, safety and environmental challenges associated with rising underground mine water.

Project ‘No Overflow’ at our Skorpion Zinc refinery in Namibia has resulted in preventing overflows from process evaporation ponds into the environment, while simultaneously reducing water consumption by 1,000 m³ per day

Anglo Platinum and our thermal coal business have developed innovative ways of turning mining and industrial process by-products materials into commercially viable resources, with positive environmental, social and economic impacts. One such product will contribute towards affordable housing solutions for low-income households.

In its efforts to ensure that it leaves a positive environmental, social and economic legacy, Anglo American has developed and launched its Mine Closure Toolbox.

Union Mine in South Africa was established in 1954 with no environmental management plan and, as a result, has more historical environmental liabilities than newer Anglo Platinum operations.

A wind farm is being established at Anglo American's Lisheen zinc and lead mine in County Tipperary, Ireland, which will benefit the operation, its employees and the community. It will also leave a positive legacy after mine closure.

Most fruit and vegetables are affected by ethylene, a plant hormone that accelerates the ripening of fruit. If uncontrolled, this can lead to a reduction in the post-harvest lifetime of the fruit through premature ripening, disease and softening.

Scaw Metals is restoring the Rietfontein landfill site in South Africa, an old clay quarry. Following a pilot study, the site was fully planted in 2006 with trees and plants specially selected for their tolerance to adverse conditions and ability to remove pollutants from land, waste and water.

Anglo American and Fauna and Flora International (FFI) embarked on a global partnership in 2007 to promote greater sharing of knowledge on biodiversity issues and support the Group's focus on best practice.

Copebrás is in Cubatão, an industrial centre in the Brazilian Atlantic rain forest region, one of the world's most diverse ecosystems. The Atlantic rain forest is also home to 70% of Brazil's population and human impact has been significant, with less than 7% of the original ecosystem remaining.

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Read our 2013 Sustainable Development Report

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