Sibanye-Stillwater is committed to the safe and environmentally responsible stewardship of our tailings storage facilities. Tailings facilities store a mine’s primary waste stream. Without proper management, these facilities can pose a significant risk to the natural and social environment. Catastrophic tailings facility failures can devastate the environment and destroy lives and livelihoods. Such catastrophic failures are unacceptable, and Sibanye-Stillwater is dedicated to ensuring that systems, standards and resources are in place to prevent failures.
Sibanye-Stillwater is on a journey of continual improvement in health, safety, and environmental performance with the ultimate goal of zero harm. The Company is dedicated to minimising human and environmental risk associated with its tailings storage facilities. The goal of zero harm from tailings facilities encompasses both physical and chemical performance objectives including zero catastrophic failures of our tailings storage facilities and no significant adverse effects on the environment or human health.
Sibanye-Stillwater has embarked on a wide-ranging programme to align its management of tailings storage facilities with that of the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM) launched on 6 August 2020.
As a member of the ICMM, Sibanye-Stillwater has committed to align with the GISTM requirements within the stipulated milestone of 5 August 2023 for very High and Extreme consequence tailings storage facilities and 5 August 2025 for remaining tailings storage facilities. The GISTM is considered the pinnacle of international tailings standards and this commitment extends beyond our ICMM membership to include all stakeholders, impacted communities and the public at large.
Shortly after the publication of the GISTM, Sibanye-Stillwater began implementing a range of initiatives to improve and align management of tailings storage facilities with the GISTM.
Site level self-assessments measuring compliance are undertaken monthly by all operations. Seventeen out of twenty-two active TSFs achieved compliance end 2022. The remaining TSFs, are on track for compliance by August 2023.
Key items completed to date include:
- Implementation of a Group Tailings Management System
- Formalisation of internal governance structure including appointment of Accountable Executives, Vice President Tailings Engineering and Responsible Tailings Facility Engineers
- Formalisation of external governance structure including appointment of Engineers of Record and Independent Tailings Review Boards (SA and US regions)
- Identification of impacted communities within potential areas of inundation should a catastrophic failure occur
- Dedicated tailings awareness training presented to impacted communities
- Advanced geotechnical investigations and stability assessments on active tailings storage facilities
- Construction of remedial measures such as underdrains and buttresses where necessary to improve overall stability
The governance structure for tailings management, indicated in the figure below, is closely aligned with the requirements of the GISTM.
Reviews undertaken by the Independent Tailings Review Boards (ITRB) assess the safety of TSFs in terms of the design, operation and performance of the TSF against the design intent. Independent reviews are also undertaken for the group tailings management system and respective components. The reviews serve to provide assurance to the Board, Executive and stakeholders that our TSFs do not pose any unacceptable risks.
The SA Region ITRB comprises three members, all of whom participate in multiple ITRBs for various mining companies:
Dr Dirk van Zyl: Dirk is a geotechnical engineer with more than 44 years’ experience in research, teaching and consulting in tailings and mine rock management and heap leach design for international projects. He spent in total about 24 years in academia. Dirk also participates on the US Region ITRB. Dirk resides in Washington State.
My John Wates: John provides independent consulting services through John Wates Consulting. He has had over 40 years of experience in design and construction management of mine tailings storage facilities, water dams and industrial and domestic waste disposal sites. John resides in South Africa.
Mr Danie Brink: Danie is an independent specialist tailings consultant. He has 37 years’ experience in the field of mining and industrial waste management, with a particular focus on the design and surveillance of tailings storage facilities and the closure design of waste and tailings facilities. Danie resides in South Africa.
The US Region ITRB also comprises three members. In addition to Dr Dirk van Zyl:
Mr Matt Fuller: Matt is a Founding Principal of Tierra Group International and an Engineering Geologist. Matt’s professional technical experience spans more than 30 years providing geological, geotechnical, geo-environmental and geological hazards consulting services to the international mining industry. Matt resides in Colorado.
Dr. Richard Dawson: Richard is currently a Senior Principal at Stantec based in Vancouver, Canada. Richard has over 40 years of experience in geology, mining, and geotechnical engineering related to resource development. Richard’s technical expertise is in mine waste geotechnics (waste dumps and tailings), slope stability (rock and soil), and risk evaluations.
Recent TSF failures have clearly demonstrated the need to include local authorities, impacted communities and first responders in the development and testing of emergency preparedness and response plans (EPRP).
In addition to the tailings awareness training presented to our communities, numerous interactions are being held with local municipalities regarding response prior to and after a disaster. To date, a memorandum of understanding has been entered into with Bojanala Platinum District Municipality. The municipality includes the five local municipalities within which our PGM operations are located.
The Gift of the Givers Foundation is the largest disaster response, non-governmental organisation of African origin on the African continent. Various interactions and site visits were held with the Foundation. Although initial discussions focussed on response after failure of a tailings storage facility, a memorandum of agreement has been entered into that includes any potential mine wide disasters.
At our US PGM operations, the Good Neighbor Agreement (GNA) councils represent the local community interests and have been involved with every aspect of TSF design, monitoring, and closure planning. The GNA councils were involved in the development of the EPRPs and instrumental in developing a community education program. Representatives from the mine operations meet with local County officials and first responders on an annual basis for tailings awareness training and to conduct emergency exercises.
Tailings are what remains after extracting valuable minerals and metals from mined ore and usually take the form of a slurry comprising crushed rock, water, trace quantities of metals and additives used in processing.
Tailings are pumped into surface dams known as tailings storage facilities (TSFs) where the material is allowed to dry. Post operations, TSFs are rehabilitated with the area generally restored with grass and other vegetation. TSFs can be constructed in a number of ways depending on a number of factors, namely, local topography, rainfall, seismic activity and the proximity of the mine to local communities.
Tailings storage facilities follow one of three wall construction designs – downstream, upstream or centreline.
In South Africa, the principle management guidance document for tailings storage facilities is SANS 10286, the origin of which dates back to 1998. This standard contains fundamental objectives, the principles and minimum requirements for best practice, all aimed at ensuring that no unavoidable risks, problems and/or legacies are left to future generations. The standard does not, however, address the environmental issues or health and safety concerns of tailings storage, but places more focus on the need for management throughout the life cycle of a tailings storage facility. SANS 10286, in its current format, falls short of the more stringent requirements as contained in the GISTM and is in the process of being updated.
In the US state of Montana, new regulations (MCA 82-4-376) were promulgated in 2015 which are broadly reflective of international best practice in the management of tailings storage facilities. These regulations stipulate all storage facilities are to be designed using the most advanced practices and technologies available, requiring ample review and approval of design, operation, maintenance and closure by expert engineers ahead of construction.
Sibanye-Stillwater has 37 tailings storage facilities under current management as listed below – both in South Africa and the United States – most of which were inherited through recent acquisitions.
All our facilities in South Africa (SA) are built in an upstream direction. While building in the upstream direction has not been abandoned, specific countries have banned upstream construction – Chile due to earthquakes and Brazil due to high rainfall. Upstream facilities do pose a higher risk and hence require an increased level of management which has been practised for decades in South Africa.
The tailings storage facilities of the Group’s SA and US PGM operations, which were designed and built more recently according to more stringent parameters, are aligned with international best practice.
In recent years, Sibanye-Stillwater has undertaken various initiatives to improve its rehabilitation capabilities, particularly as they relate to tailings storage facilities. The flagship initiative was the purchase of a 50.1% shareholding in DRDGOLD, a world leader in the retreatment of surface gold tailings. This partnership allows Sibanye-Stillwater to leverage off DRDGOLD’s proven capabilities particularly in terms of:
- Reversing the environmental legacy of mining through the retreatment of tailings storage facilities
- Project managing the execution and implementation of surface processing infrastructure development
- Optimising innovative and technology-driven processing
Ultimately, the acquisition of DRDGOLD will help the Group to drastically reduce the number of legacy tailings storage facilities it has under its management.
Tailings storage facilities by region
Sibanye-Stillwater is committed to transparency regarding the safety and integrity of our TSFs. This includes submissions required by organisations such as the Church of England Pensions Fund and the ICMM.
The Global Industry Standard for Tailings Management details specific aspects regarding the management and status of TSFs required in such disclosures. Details of our managed TSFs are listed by region below. Individual fact sheets summarising details of the TSF and the current status determined through independent reviews are provided. Any material risks and the related mitigation measures are discussed. For the purpose of these fact sheets, “material” is defined as a risk or event that may have a short or long-term impact on the integrity of the facility requiring mitigation.
SA gold operations
Operation TSF name/ map link Coordinates Status Consequence Classification
Risk exposure Operating methodology Date commissioned Life of TSF Current max height Fact sheet 1 Beatrix BTX1 (Beatrix Dormant TSF compartment) -28.28695, 26.7704111 Inactive Care and Maintenance TBC High L Upstream,
1983 N/A 30 2 Beatrix BTX2 (Beatrix Active TSF compartment) -28.2736972, 26.7716583 Active Extreme High L Upstream,
2002 2029 @1,5m/year 25 Download 3 Beatrix BTX4 (Oryx TSF) -28.188975, 26.7037361 Inactive Care and Maintenance TBC High L Upstream,
1981 N/A 20 4 Burnstone Burnstone TSF -26.6224333, 28.6782361 Inactive Care and Maintenance TBC Low L Upstream,
2010 N/A 15 5 Cooke Mine Cooke TSF -26.2434528, 27.749525 Inactive Care and Maintenance TBC Medium L Upstream,
1977 N/A 45 6 Driefontein Driefontein 1 TSF -26.2434528, 27.749525 Active Extreme High L Upstream,
1972 2036 @1,5m/year 62 Download 7 Driefontein Driefontein 2 TSF -26.3705278, 27.5026583 Active Extreme High L Upstream,
1972 2034 @1,5m/year 52 Download 8 Ezulweni Ezulweni North TSF -26.35345, 27.7256778 Active Extreme Medium L Upstream,
1982 2035 @2m/year 30 Download 9 Kloof Kloof TSF 2 -26.4434417, 27.5908444 Active High High L Upstream,
1960 Dec 2022 @1,5m/year 65 Download 10 Leeudoorn Leeudoorn TSF -26.4601028, 27.5680028 Active Extreme High L Upstream,
1982 Upper: 2046 @1,5m/year
Lower: 2060 @1,5m/year
Download 11 Cooke Mine Millsite Complex (38, 39, 40, 41, valley dam) -26.1317444, 27.7018139 Inactive Care and Maintenance, Dam 38 undergoing remining TBC Medium L Upstream,
1900 N/A 50 12 Ezulweni Ezulweni South TSF (Cooke 4) -26.3811667, 27.7197667 Inactive Care and Maintenance TBC Medium L Upstream,
1959 N/A 36
SA PGM operations
Operation TSF name/ map link Coordinates Status Consequence Classification
Risk exposure Risk description and mitigation measures Operating methodology Date commissioned Life of TSF Current max height Fact sheet 13 Limpopo Operations Baobab 1 -24.3698, 29.4712 Active Very High Medium L Upstream, Spigot 2002 2029 @2.5m/yr 22 Download 14 Marikana operations Eastern Plats TD1 -25.6870, 27.6042 Re-mining TBC High L Upstream, Spigot 1989 Oct-04 36 15 Marikana Operations Eastern Plats TD2 -25.6872, 27.5957 Active Extreme High M Instability, extensive seepage.
Mitigation measures: A drained buttress has been constructed along 80% of the outer wall. No further concerns have been experienced.
Upstream, Spigot 2002 2027 @2,5m/yr 36 Download 16 Rustenburg Operations Hoedspruit -25.6727, 27.4097 Active Very High High L Upstream, Spigot 2004 2044 @2,5m/year 40 Download 17 Kroondal Operations K1 (K1 Concentrator) -25.71306, 27.3296 Active Extreme High L Upstream, Spigot 1999 2026 @2m/year 38 Download 18 Kroondal Operations K150 (K1 Concentrator) -25.7164, 27.35163 Active Extreme High L Upsteam, Cyclone 2001 2026 @2m/year 60 Download 19 Kroondal Operations K2 (K1 Concentrator, K2 Concentrator in emergency) -25.71688, 27.3604 Active Extreme N/A L Upstream, Spigot 2005 2026 @2,7m/year 70 Download 20 Marikana operations Karee 1 -25.6815, 27.4522 Inactive Care and Maintenance TBC High L Upstream, Spigot 1989 N/A 37 21 Marikana Operations Karee 2 -25.6769, 27.4460 Active Very High N/A L Upstream, Spigot 2001 2026 @1.3m/yr 32 Download 22 Marikana Operations Karee 3 -25.6769, 27.6769 Active Very High High L Upstream, Spigot 2002 TD3A: 2024 @1.5m/yr, TD3B: 2024 @2.1m/year 33 Download 23 Marikana Operations Karee 4 -25.6498, 27.4491 Active Very High Medium L Upstream, Spigot 2008 2045 @1.3m/yr, 2043 @1.5m/yr 17 Download 24 Rustenburg operations Klipfontein -25.708771, 27.384145 Re-mined TBC High L Upstream, Spigot N/A 0 25 Kroondal Operations Marikana (K2 Concentrator) -25.732519, 27.40939 Active Very High High M Seepage on NW & West flank.
Mitigation measures: Phase 4 of the buttress was completed mid-February 2023. No further concerns have been experienced.
Upstream, Spigot 1999 2030 @2m/yr 27 Download 26 Rustenburg Operations Paardekraal Central -25.6373, 27.3171 Active Extreme High L Upstream, Spigot 1983 2026 @2.5m/year, 2031 (extension) @2.5m/year 62 Download 27 Rustenburg Operations Paardekraal PK4 -25.6273, 27.3053 Active Extreme High L Upstream, Spigot 2007 2069 @2.5m/year 23 Download 28 Rustenburg Operations Paardekraal PK5 -25.6457, 27.3271 Active Extreme High L Upstream, Spigot 2008 2069 @2.5m/year 36 Download 29 Platinum Mile Waterval East -25.6676, 27.3166 Re-mining TBC High L Upstream, Spigot 2004 N/A 30 Platinum Mile Waterval West -25.6642, 27.3131 Re-mining TBC High L Upstream, Spigot N/A 31 Marikana operations Western Plats TD1 -25.7085, 27.5093 Inactive Care and Maintenance TBC High L Upstream, Spigot Pre 1980 N/A 23 32 Marikana operations Western Plats TD2 -25.7149, 27.5269 Inactive Care and Maintenance TBC High L Upstream, Spigot Pre 1980 2034 @2.5m/yr 34 33 Marikana operations Western Plats TD5 -25.6968, 27.5264 Inactive Care and Maintenance TBC High L Upstream, Spigot 1980 Nov-17 63 34 Marikana Operations Western Plats TD6 -25.6745, 27.5582 Active Extreme High L Upstream, Spigot 2000 2030 @2.5m/yr 36 Download 35 Marikana operations Western Plats TD7 -25.7020, 27.5409 Inactive Care and Maintenance TBC High L Upstream, Spigot 1992 N/A 23
US PGM operations
TSF name/ map link Coordinates Status Consequence Classification
Risk exposure Operating methodology Date commissioned Life of TSF Current max height Reports STILLWATER OPERATIONS 36. East Bolder TSF 45.5059, -110.0850 Active Very high Significant L Impoundment, Spigot 2001 2030 44 More… Documentation Published East Bolder TSF Stage 3: Tailings Operations, Maintenance And Surveillance (TOMS) Manual 3.2 5.1 6.4 6.6 December 20, 2022 East Bolder TSF Stage 3: Tailings Storage Facility Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) 2.3 2.4 13.1 13.2 13.3 December 19, 2022 Fact sheet: East Boulder Tailings March, 2023 37. Nye TSF 45.3856, -109.8759 Utilised for water management Very high Significant L Impoundment, Spigot 1986 N/A 30 More… Documentation Published Nye TSF: Tailings Operations, Maintenance And Surveillance (TOMS) Manual 3.2 5.1 6.4 6.6 December 23, 2022 Stillwater Mine: Tailings Storage Facility Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) 2.3 2.4 13.1 13.2 13.3 April 28, 2021 Fact sheet: Nye Tailings March, 2023 37. Herzler TSF 45.4533, -109.7861 Active Extreme Significant L Impoundment, Spigot 2002 2030 54 More… Documentation Published Hertzler Tailings Operations, Maintenance And Surveillance (Toms) Manual 3.2 5.1 6.4 6.6 December 22, 2022 Stillwater Mine: Tailings Storage Facility Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) 2.3 2.4 13.1 13.2 13.3 April 28, 2021 Fact sheet: Hertzler Tailings March, 2023 38. Lewis Gulch 45.512811, -110.095811 Under Permitting Extreme Significant Impoundment, Spigot 2030 2043 More… Documentation Published Summary: Lewis Gulch TSF March, 2023