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  • Last updated

    6:59pm on Sep 23, 2021

SIBANYE-STILLWATER CELEBRATES WORLD WETLANDS DAY 2021 - FIND OUT WHY WE NEED TO PRESERVE OUR WETLANDS

What is World Wetlands Day?

On the 2nd of February 1971, the Ramsar Convention for the "protection of wetlands of international importance" was signed. The convention aims at identifying and ensuring the protection of wetlands of international importance and promoting the education, awareness and protection of all wetlands globally. Of the more than 2 400 Ramsar sites declared globally 26 Ramsar sites have been declared in South Africa and 41 sites have been declared in the USA. The 2021 theme focuses on “Wetlands and Water” to bring awareness to their core function of ensuring freshwater and the need to protect them. As Sibanye-Stillwater operates in countries that have both ratified the Ramsar Convention we are proud to participate in the celebration of World Wetlands Day.

Common bullrush (Typha capensis) at Kroondal
Common bullrush (Typha capensis) at Kroondal
Orchids (Sartyrium sp.) indicating wetland conditions
Orchids (Sartyrium sp.) indicating wetland conditions
Mudwort - Limosella maior
Mudwort - Limosella maior

 


What is a wetland?

A wetland is an area in the landscape usually filled with water for an extended period of time. It can be salty or fresh, filled to the brim with water or only have water below the surface. All of our mining operations are surrounded and supported by wetlands.

How can you spot a wetland?

A wetland is a complex feature in the landscape and can come in many forms, a combination of indicators help you to identify them, including:

  1. The presence of water, though it might not always be on the surface!
  2. The unique plants and animals adapted to the saturated conditions.
  3. The ground which has undergone changes to its characteristics, often shown in a grey color (gleyed) and spotted soils (mottling).
  4. The lay of the land will also provide an indication as the wetland will collect water from the surrounding catchment, so it is usually the lowest point in the landscape.
Gleyed and mottled soils
Gleyed and mottled soils
Inundated floodplain wetland
Inundated floodplain wetland

 


Why are they so important?

Wetlands perform so many functions for humans and the natural environment, at Sibanye-Stillwater they support mining and production, control flood-events and support biodiversity which drives sustainable mine closure. They also assist in the treatment of water quality impacts, act as sponges to collect water, provide resources such as food and textiles, and act as a carbon sink to reduce the impact and intensity of climate change.

How can we help wetlands?

Water conservation and water demand, proper waste management, stormwater and water quality management are all key focus areas at Sibanye-Stillwater. This in turn supports and is supported by concurrent rehabilitation of historically impacted wetlands, with an aim to avoid disturbances or where necessary ensure sufficient restoration. Aligning with the procedures, policies and plans in place within the Sibanye-Stillwater Environmental Department will ensure we work with our wetlands to create a mutually beneficial environment

Wetland flood attenuation
Wetland flood attenuation
Water quality management
Water quality management

 


How can we hurt wetlands?

Dirty water areas, like salvage yards, tailings, plants and rock dumps as well as supporting infrastructure like dams, pipelines and berms, need to be carefully placed, built and managed. The release of waste or waste water, disturbance of their catchment area, such as through excavations, and the change in their flow regime, such as through increasing discharges or groundwater abstraction, can harm their function and in turn the services they provides to humans and nature.

Acid Mine Drainage
Acid Mine Drainage
Illegal mining blocking-up wetlands and releasing harmful material
Fish in an inundated wetland
Erosion caused by overgrazing
Erosion caused by overgrazing

 


Find out more

Find out more about the initiatives we are undertaking to improve and support our wetland systems in the Sibanye-Stillwater Integrated Annual Report available at www.sibanyestillwater.com/news-investors/reports/annual/

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