Join us in celebrating International Day for Biological Diversity worldwide on 22 May 2023 with the theme “From agreement to action: build back biodiversity”. This year’s focus is on the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, adopted as an outcome of the COP 15 United Nations Biodiversity Conference at the end of 2022. The framework aims to halt species loss, expand protected areas, and promote sustainable use of biological resources.
In line with this theme, Sibanye-Stillwater has developed a biodiversity vision that strives for “No Net Loss(1)” in biodiversity for new/greenfield operations and “Net Gain(2)” for existing operations. We achieve this by implementing and integrating the mitigation hierarchy into decision-making and project planning at all levels.
Sibanye-Stillwater conducted a comprehensive assessment of its consolidated biodiversity footprint using the Biological Diversity Protocol (BD Protocol) as spearheaded by the National Biodiversity and Business Network of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT). The use of site-based data to consolidate and disclose our biodiversity footprints from all direct operations in 2022, was a world first for mining companies. This assessment created an inventory of all our ecosystems and the condition or integrity of each one to arrive at surface area adjusted for condition (or hectare equivalents) in order to calculate our Positive and Negative Biodiversity Footprints. This allows us to set and track numerical targets in terms of our Nature Stewardship aims, namely: Net Gain in existing projects (brownfields, specifically all SA operations) and No Net Loss for new projects (greenfields, the US PGM operations). Our Biodiversity Footprints using the BD Protocol were highlighted as best practice in an event parallel to the main negotiations at COP 15 presented by our partners at EWT.
- No Net Loss (“NNL”) refers to the point where biodiversity gains from targeted mitigation activities match the losses of biodiversity due to the impacts of a business activity or project. The type, amount and condition (or quality) of biodiversity need to be taken into account.
- A Net Gain means that biodiversity gains exceed a specific set of losses for an ecologically equivalent biodiversity feature.
2022 biodiversity footprint update*
The inclusion of new properties in the USA operations with mostly excellent or pristine ecosystems has contributed to the Positive Biodiversity Footprint ratio increasing from 13% to 15% as a proportion of the Total Biodiversity Footprint. The changes to the SA operations included updated wetland surveys and the rehabilitation of pits at one site.
* as per the Biological Diversity Protocol
BDP 2022 assessment results, percentage positive and negative as based on hectare equivalents
The following collection of before-and-after images showcases our positive biodiversity journey at our SA operations, staying true to the theme “From agreement to action: build back biodiversity“.
Engaging with our stakeholders – collaboration on nature
We have co-chaired the Biodiversity and Mining Working Group with the National Biodiversity and Business Network to specifically focus on regional collaborative management of biodiversity in terrestrial areas. An initial focus has been placed on the Rustenburg region where the Magaliesberg Biosphere can benefit from improved regional management. We are investigating pilot work programmes with various role-players from mining, and other industries.
We participate in catchment management forums which aim to collaborate with water-uses within river catchment areas to manage these systems collectively, and we offer support to the Department of Water and Sanitation. We have developed site-specific biodiversity action plans in collaboration with local communities. We have driven education and awareness initiatives both internally and externally, including providing information on wetlands and training on the biological diversity procedure.
Sibanye-Stillwater continues to coordinate the Hex-Elands Catchment Forum, operating near Rustenburg (South Africa), on behalf of the South African Department of Water and Sanitation. Through Sibanye-Stillwater’s assistance, this has ensured the continued provision of critical information to all catchment users including industry, government, and communities.
Through our various regional collaborations, we aim to continuously improve upon our relationships with our adjacent landowners and water users to ensure a sustainable and climate-change resilient post-mining environment.
From the 2022 update of our footprint, we included the significant expansion in the area of assessment, mostly at our US PGM operations, to include areas beyond the direct mining footprint, including ancillary activities, designated conservation easements and land leased to private persons as well as the improved ecological state assessments. Because of this, the baseline footprint was adjusted and the Positive Biodiversity Footprint ratio increased from 13% to 15% as a proportion of the Total Biodiversity Footprint.
This net improvement was not seen as a Net Gain as this was a resetting of the baseline. We are committed to continual improvement and annual updates to track changes against our targets.
In Finland, an environmental permit imposes certain requirements on us for the monitoring and protection of stipulated species of flora and fauna found within the operational site and within the potential impact zone of our operations. To monitor and protect these species (as per the permit directives), Sibanye-Stillwater’s Keliber lithium project is implementing a Biodiversity management plan (BMP). The focus of actions has been directed to the surroundings of the Syväjärvi and Rapasaari mine sites as mining will commence at these locations first. The BMP will in future address other mine sites as well.
To sustain biodiversity in surrounding areas, we will cooperate in monitoring programmes with other companies in the area. These monitoring programmes include monitoring of coastal waters, of air quality, and of noise monitoring in the Kokkola industrial area. The programmes also include groundwater and bioindicator survey monitoring every five years.
- Sibanye-Stillwater’s 2022 SA operations biodiversity footprint as per the Biological Diversity Protocol
- Sibanye-Stillwater US PGM operations 2022 biodiversity impact assessment
- Sibanye-Stillwater’s 2022 biodiversity footprint summary
- Fact sheet 2022: Biodiversity management
- Integrated report 2022: Minimising our environmental impact
- UN Day : International Day for Biological Diversity 2023