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Environment

Foskor gives feedback on its environmental performance at a quarterly Environmental Forum with stakeholders from the industry, local and national government bodies, residents and other interested and affected parties. Foskor’s environmental teams are also represented at the following forums:

  • The Richards Bay Clean Air Association;
  • The uMhlathuze Pipeline Forum, relating to the management of effluent quality and volumes discharged at sea;
  • Transnet’s Environmental Forum Meeting in accordance with the Environmental Management Plan for Port Operations;
  • The uMhlathuze Emergency Planning Forum;
  • The Olifant River Water Catchment Forum; and
  • The Kruger National Park Environmental Management Forum.


Water consumption and conservation

The Mining Division in Phalaborwa used annual Water Week to raise stakeholder awareness of Foskor’s role in protecting water sources in the Kruger National Park.


Water management project

In September 2009, Foskor staff in Richards Bay joined KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in cleaning the beaches and the Casuarina section of the harbour.

The Acid Division in Richards Bay sources potable and clarified water from the uMhlathuze Municipality and is contractually bound to consume no more than 393,802 kilolitres of potable water per month. Approximately 10 megalitres of water are used throughout the plant per day. The Richards Bay plant is authorised to use an average of 13.5 megalitres capped at 17.6 megalitres of clarified water per day. The clarified water is mainly used for manufacturing phosphoric acid. Daily monitoring and reporting of water use ensures stringent control.

A storm water dam south of Foskor’s boundary in Richards Bay collects the majority of the storm water that leaves the site. The storm water recovered from the site is returned to the phosphoric acid and granulation plants via pipelines, for reuse. The majority of roads and storm water systems in Richards Bay have served the plant since 1976. A R68 million storm water drainage and road rehabilitation upgrade process, started in 2008, addresses on-site challenges and simplifies maintenance.

Foskor reuses and recycles water from within the site and from other industries wherever practically possible; for example:

  • For a number of years now, industrial effluent pumped out to sea has been used as a slurry medium for gypsum, thus lowering the intake of raw water. Foskor uses sea water for slurry to lower toxicity levels by as much as four times;
  • Recycled effluent water from the Hillside smelter is used; and
  • A filter system was installed for producing potable water, resulting in significant cost saving.


Protection of plant and animal species

Foskor protects indigenous plants. Service contracts regulate the control of alien plant species in and around the Foskor sites as well as in the area immediately surrounding the old gypsum dump site in Richards Bay.

In Phalaborwa, to protect both human and animal life, Foskor is embarking on marking about 1,000 cattle in the vicinity with reflectors so that they can be easily seen on the road at night.

Foskor donated R800,000 to the Resuscitation Programme to encourage Limpopo’s residents to preserve the environment and to reduce global warming by growing indigenous trees in residential areas. Approximately 100 new jobs can potentially be created in collaboration with the government’s Expanded Public Works Programme. Foskor resuscitates the environment in its vicinity that was previously damaged by irresponsible human behaviour, conflict between conservation and development goals or unsustainable biodiversity, or as a result of firewood used as an alternative energy source.


Air quality

The Acid Division monitors and measures emissions as is required by various environmental acts and regulations as well as permits and licence issued to Foskor. Monitoring reduces or eliminates environmental risks such as water and air pollution. Ad hoc monitoring is conducted when the need arises, when requested by regulators and also as a result of complaints received from interest groups.

The Environmental Forum monitors the emission of the following hazardous substances:

  • Dust;
  • Ambient fluoride;
  • P2O5;
  • Sulphur dioxide;
  • Hydrogen sulphide;
  • Particulates (PM10 and PM2.5); and
  • Ammonia.

The Acid Division risks emitting sulphur dioxide in excess of permit requirements when the sulphuric acid plants are started up. To avoid excessive emissions and discomfort to both personnel and the surrounding public, plant start-ups are limited to favourable weather conditions and certain times of the day. Foskor invested R36.5 million to design and construct two start-up scrubbers to cut and re-route emissions from the plant through an alkali scrubbing medium before venting them into the atmosphere.

Foskor installed five ambient Airpointer sulphur dioxide (SO2) monitors worth R1.9 million. The Airpointer is a complex realtime analyser that uses SO2 ultraviolet fluorescent technology to measure the SO2 levels in the atmosphere, taking account of the prevailing wind direction given the proximity of the community and surrounding industries. The unit is currently linked to the distributed control system and emits a warning signal when SO2 levels are excessive.


Energy efficiency

The Acid Division’s electricity is supplied directly from Scorpio substation, operated by the City of uMhlathuze. The station consists of two incoming feeders running in parallel, each with a capacity of 22.8 MVA. The predetermined maximum demand that the Acid Division is allowed to draw from this supply is 27 MVA. The Acid Division also utilises a 26 MVA ‘cogeneration’ onsite steam turbine generator, which is powered by heat from excess steam and is set to augment the municipal supply of electricity to the plant. Foskor currently generates between 6 MVA and 8 MVA using its waste steam.


Waste disposal

Over the years, Foskor has undertaken various efficient waste disposal initiatives and now successfully recycles the following on-site:

  • Paper i.e. ordinary typing paper, newspapers, magazines and telephone directories;
  • Non-ferrous metals;
  • Ferrous metals including stainless steel;
  • Polystyrene;
  • Melamine;
  • Wood;
  • Conveyor belting (rubber); and
  • All types of plastic (PET, HDPE, PVC, etc.).

 

A new sorting yard or radiation waste and bunker facility, for improved bulk handling of hazardous waste, has reduced the disposal of construction, demolition and hazardous waste by 15% compared to the previous reporting year. This has prevented contamination, aided the recovery of materials for reuse in the plant, and recycled both acidic filter cake and sandblasting grids.


Conclusion

Foskor recognises that sustainable development links opportunity with responsibility. Sustainable development raises competitiveness and allows for more informed production, taking damage to the environment into consideration. Socially responsible behaviour spreads economic wealth equitably and brings a better quality of life to those affected by the operation’s daily activities.