Sustainable development

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Waste rock crushed for road re-surfacing at Landau collieryWaste rock crushed for road re-surfacing at Landau colliery

Our mining operations inevitably generate mineral waste, such as rock and tailings, and non-mineral waste such as general and industrial waste. Considerably less non-mineral waste is produced on our operations now than before. That's because Anglo American is increasingly recycling non-mineral waste wherever possible, either for our own use or by transforming it into commercial commodities.

The Anglo American Environment Way’s Mineral Residue, Non-Mineral Waste and Hazardous Substances performance standards define our approach to waste management, and in 2011, we issued draft recommended practices on the responsible management of air quality, non-mineral waste and hazardous substances. Together, they aim to ensure that waste streams are handled responsibly and that the ‘avoid, reduce, reuse and recycle’ waste management hierarchy is applied where ever possible.

Reducing non-mineral waste

Traditionally, non-mineral waste went to landfill. That tradition is changing at Anglo American as we work to find alternative uses for the material that remains after extraction of readily commercial commodities.

New commodities

From our point of view, the best waste reduction initiatives are those that produce something useful - and valuable. Our Technical Division is doing just that. In tandem with our coal and platinum business units, it has developed innovative products to transform waste into commercial commodities. This not only reduces the environmental impact of our operations but also generates the funds needed to manage the remaining waste.

Thermal Coal’s Emalahleni water reclamation plant in South Africa’s ultimate goal is for it to become a zero-waste disposal facility by using the 100 tonnes of gypsum by-product it produces per day. It took part in two studies that investigated the conversion of waste gypsum into sulphur, limestone and magnesite, as well as making mining and building products from the by-product. At Platinum, rock dumps are also used as a resource for road construction once processed.

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