Sustainable development

Share page on


Egrets nesting at Union Mine's dam in South AfricaEgrets nesting at Union Mine's dam in South Africa

Anglo American owns or has rights to large areas of land on a number of continents. With those rights come responsibilities. This is particularly the case in South Africa and Brazil – nations rich in biodiversity.

Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth. We have a responsibility to minimise the negative impacts that may arise as a result of land clearance, or any failure to manage air emissions and water discharges properly.

Working towards the lowest possible impact is especially important in remote areas, those that are very bio-diverse, and where local communities have a direct dependence on the natural environment.

Our strategy

We have commenced a review of our biodiversity strategy. Since this was developed in 2002, the regulatory environments in which we operate have tightened to the extent that many now require new developments to achieve ‘no net loss of biodiversity’ and offsetting of impacts.

We have commenced a project to determine the business case for biodiversity management, which will connect with our overall ‘value of sustainability’ project. This will develop a consistent methodology for valuing biodiversity in our projects.

As with our other environmental initiatives, delivery of our ongoing strategy is by means of our efforts in three areas: improving operational excellence, investing in technology, and engaging and partnering with our stakeholders.

Operational excellence

Our approach to land stewardship and biodiversity is governed by various mandatory performance requirements outlined in the Environment Way. Those sites where potential significant risks or opportunities have been identified must develop stand-alone biodiversity action plans (BAPs) within two years of acquisition or commissioning.

All of our sites that require BAPs currently have them in place. Guidance on the development of BAPs, and on other aspects of the performance requirement, is provided in our detailed guidance document that was developed and approved in 2011.

A programme of third-party environmental management system audits and biodiversity peer reviews is used to provide operations with guidance on how to improve their performance and achieve full compliance with Anglo American requirements, as well as to promote learning and the sharing of best practices.


An important initiative in this area has been the development of a ‘biodiversity overlap assessment tool’, through which we will be overlaying biodiversity data available from the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) with our own site-based data. Helping us to identify and prioritise the main biodiversity risks and opportunities for our operations and is a first step towards piecing together a global map of our operations in relation to protected areas.


Since 2008 we have strengthened our biodiversity strategy by entering into a global strategic partnership with the NGO Fauna & Flora International (FFI). In addition to participating in 16 BAP reviews and providing an independent perspective on our biodiversity management practices, FFI has contributed to the development of our biodiversity strategy, performance requirements, guideline documents, and the updating of our Socio-Economic Assessment Toolbox tool which will enable our operations to integrate biodiversity considerations into their community initiatives.

Anglo American has also recently become a member of the Proteus 2012 Partnership. Proteus is a private-sector partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) which is building a database of information on key protected areas around the world. We intend to map our operational footprint against this data in order to identify key biodiversity risk areas.

As a member of ICMM, we have signed up to the ICMM Mining and Protected Areas Position Statement, thus committing ourselves to  respecting legally designated protected areas, and to not explore or mine at any World Heritage sites.

Back to top