Environmental Impact

The sustainability of IFM’s business depends on operating within the carrying capacity of the environment.

Mining and mineral processing, when strategically planned and carefully implemented, need not have a negative impact on the environment. IFM shares global concern about environmental degradation and resource depletion, in particular water and energy resources.

Mining and mineral processing is an energy-intensive sector and IFM’s energy performance goes hand-in-hand with business-planning processes. The Company needs a consistent and cost-effective supply of energy for existing operations, as well as secure access to energy for future projects. Responsible water management is also a critical consideration in all the areas in which the Company operate.

Other environmental concerns include contribution to climate change, biodiversity, reducing and safely handling waste and impacts associated with the Company’s products and supply chain.

By adopting new or cleaner technologies, production processes are made more efficient, costs reduced and the overall quality of the environmental management programme improved. Management of environmental aspects and risks is underpinned by the Environmental Policy and supported by targets, standards and guidelines, approved environmental management plans and systems to manage environmental risks. IFM’s history of compliance is testament to the Company’s commitment to a working environment that does no harm.

“By adopting new or cleaner technologies, production processes are made more efficient, costs reduced and the overall quality of the environmental management programme improved.”

During the financial year IFM continued to implement initiatives to improve energy efficiency and significantly increased the use of recycled water to replace fresh water use. Net loss or degradation of natural habitats, biodiversity and landscape functions was avoided.

On a national scale, IFM participates in a number of forums to contribute to government decision making and to create a platform for collaboration with industry peers and government on issues pertaining to environmental management.

The EMP addendum, including proposed future expansions and authorised by the DMR in 2009 is still valid. An EMPR compliance audit was conducted in January 2014 by Prescali Environmental Consultants. The audit report states, “Overall the IFM operations have demonstrated exemplary compliance with general environmental legal obligations”.

Climate Change

Climate change represents one of the greatest threats to the environment, society and the economy. IFM recognises the need to take meaningful action towards addressing its causes, and to help protect employees, assets, as well as the communities and environments linked to our operations, against its potential negative impacts.

The amount of energy available to and used by IFM is material to the sustainability of IFM’s business. The amount of energy used is a significant component of the Company’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Electricity costs have risen and are likely to rise significantly in coming years.

IFM established an electricity consumption as well as a CO2 emissions per tonne of ferrochrome produced target during FY2014 in order to measure improvement more effectively. CO2 emissions for the year amounted to 722,969 tonnes compared to 520,170 tonnes during FY2013. The increase is a result of the increased production during the current year.

During the year total electricity consumption was 834,731,343 kWh, a 28% increase on the prior financial year (649,595,268 kWh). The increased consumption during the year is a result of the higher production rate during the year.

Water Management

Water is an essential input for IFM’s mining and processing activities and needs to be used as efficiently as possible, always taking into account the water needs of the surrounding communities. IFM aims to use water efficiently, re-use what it can and release water only of an acceptable quality back into the system.

Using water efficiently means maximising the amount of water that is recycled and reused, eliminating water wastage and reducing demand where this is technically feasible. The Company operates with an Integrated Water Use Licence (IWUL), which is valid until June 2032. A Water Use Licence compliance audit was conducted in December 2013 by Prescali Environmental Consultants. In general IFM is compliant to the IWUL and deviations found during the audit were addressed by action management plans. Two non-compliance concerns were raised and four opportunities for improvement identified. The non-compliances mainly relate to ineffective clean and dirty water separation. IFM is implementing phase 1 of the storm water upgrade project during FY2015 in order to address these issues. Phase 1 of the project involves the de-silting and cleaning of the existing storm water dams and trenches.

During the year IFM continued to experience problems with water supply from the Madibeng Local Municipality, which impacted its operations. The Company is providing assistance to the local municipality through personnel, equipment and maintenance services to ensure stable supply to IFM’s site as well as for the communities dependent on water supply.

Within the environmental management system, conservation of the quality and quantity of water at IFM’s operations remains a central tenet. The Company continues to build on systems, including infrastructure implemented to monitor usage, measure quality changes and to maximise the recycling opportunities. IFM is seeking an independent long-term water provision solution and discussions are under way, in collaboration with other industry partners, in pursuing this.

During FY2014 IFM consumed 973,351m3 of water for its activities. This represents a 28% reduction in water use compared to the previous year. Total volume of water received from the municipal water supplies was 425,550m3 and approximately 261,156m3 was abstracted from ground water. The total volume of water used for drinking and domestic purposes was 64,226m3 and recycled water used at process plants was 222,419m3.

Waste Management

A Waste Licence Application, for the reuse of slag, was submitted in terms of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act 2008 during October 2012. The Department of Environmental Affairs is awaiting the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry’s (DWAF) comments before approval is granted.

An application in terms of National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act 2004 (Act no. 39 of 2004) for an Atmospheric Emission Licence (AEL) was submitted to the North West Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism (NW-DEDECT) during March 2013 (this was a conversion from APPA to AEL). IFM received its AEL in April 2014. The AEL is valid until 31 March 2020.

Environmental authorisation for the proposed expansions and additional co-generation plant, issued by Department of Environmental and Tourism in December 2011 are still valid until December 2014 and February 2015 respectively. The Company is in the process of extending these target dates. Consultation with government departments were initiated in August 2014.

An ISO 14001:2004 surveillance audit was conducted by TÜV Rhineland during August 2014 and the Company retained its certification status.

Air Quality and Atmospheric Emissions

IFM’s primary atmospheric emissions are particle emissions (fine and coarse dust), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Emissions can be difficult to measure, particularly calculating the amount of dust generated by mining operations. For such sources, emission estimates are used based on internationally accepted techniques. These estimates are used as benchmark to measure and improve performance.

Fall-out dust was recorded on a monthly basis and levels remained constant within the recommended levels for the year. During winter (dry months) higher readings were recorded but were also attributed to the surrounding outside areas. The mean concentration of PNOC (particles not otherwise classified) is 0.3mg/m3 measured, is below the Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL) of 3.0mg/m3.

The mean concentration of Cr (III) is 0.002mg/m3 measured, is below the OEL of 0.5mg/m3.

Stack emission measurements and monitoring were conducted in December 2013. All emissions were within minimum emission standards and also complied with the AEL limits.


Biodiversity management is a prominent part of IFM’s environmental approach. The Company owns mining rights on portions of the farm Buffelsfontein 465JQ and does all it can to minimise any negative impacts that may arise as a result of its operations. To monitor and measure the Company’s biodiversity performance, a system of thirdparty environmental-management-system audits is used. These audits provide operations with guidance on how to improve their performance and achieve full compliance with IFM policies, objectives and standards, as well as to promote learning and to share good practices.

Any significant changes to operations or new activities are subject to comprehensive environmental impact assessments.

It is inevitable that all mines will eventually fully exploit their resources and operations will cease. Planning for closure begins at the outset of all IFM’s projects and includes the active participation of all disciplines, from engineering to finance, to ensure that it is integrated with mine planning and operations. Likewise, managing community expectations is critical to closure and rehabilitation strategies. IFM’s broad approach to closure of the site is detailed in the approved Environmental Management Programme (EMP). The amount of the financial provision guarantee has been increased to cater for the future expansions as stipulated in the revised EMPR.

Creating and Distributing Value to Employees and Communities

IFM’s economic impact is both direct and indirect. The Company is committed to activities that bring about economic growth in the communities in which it operates. In terms of the Company’s indirect impact, economic value is delivered through employment opportunities, infrastructure development projects, skills development and training and supply chain policies that result in empowering black-owned and locally based suppliers where possible.

IFM aims to make a worthwhile contribution to the communities in which it operates and improve their quality of life through meaningful corporate social investment (CSI), poverty alleviation and community support.