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Lonmin responds to Midstream air pollution claims

Western Platinum disposes of waste in Gauteng due to lack of licensed sites in North West Province, company says.

Platinum producer Lonmin has responded to claims by residents of Midstream Estate in Olifantsfontein that air pollution, which leaves them gasping for breath, emanates from hazardous waste from the company’s operations. Read the response below.

The calcium sulphite (CaSO3), a waste product derived from Western Platinum (RF) Proprietary Limited’s (WPL) processing smelter in the North West province, was disposed of at Interwaste’s FG waste disposal site (FG Landfill) in Olifantsfontein, Gauteng Province.

Read: When the air that you breathe makes you sick…

The company is obliged to have the waste disposed of at a licensed site in Gauteng as there are no licensed sites for this waste in the North West Province. WPL generates approximately 4 200 tonnes of CaSO3 per month. The waste is not classified carcinogenic, is classified as odourless and no data exists to indicate that this waste stream generates malodorous or noxious odours in the state that it is disposed of at the FG Landfill.

Read: ‘We were bad neighbours’ – Interwaste

It is noted that all landfill sites accepting different types of wastes will generate odours.

Despite these, WPL has decided not to have the waste disposed of at the said site as of January 31, 2017.

In December 2016, WPL initiated a tender process for waste collection and transport contract valued at approximately R30 million a year as the current contract was due to expire. WPL is also exploring alternatives to waste disposal, has invested in research and development with the goal of making use of cleaner mechanisms, which would produce products rather than waste and remains committed to zero harm to the people and the environment.

WPL is committed to operating in an environmentally safe and sustainable manner. The wellbeing of all stakeholders remains a priority.

Watch testimonies from residents below: 

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I sincerely hope that the wellbeing of the human and animal life in the areas surrounding Interwaste’s FG landfill is of much higher priority than the financial welfare of Interwaste or any of their clients.
Whatever the reason for the stench, Interwaste needs to own up to their environmental and social responsibilities. They have alternative landfill sites available and should cease accepting waste at FG landfill if their liners are causing a problem, as claimed by their CEO. Up to now their efforts at resolving the stench have failed miserably and they should stop with their PR spin and apologize for the problem, and furthermore they need to take serious steps to stop the stench. A good start would be to comply with their license conditions, one of which state “no nuisance odours”. But I guess they think they’re above the law.

LCH – From what we’ve seen Interwaste has complied with the standards of the waste management legislation that require them to have this liner, which aids in the quicker degeneration of waste..? I don’t see how them complying with government legislation is a problem & their license granted by GDARD has been abided too..?

Whilst i get the reason to be upset is health related issues and smells (that you are experiencing) – I don’t think the interviews conducted or statements laid our are a PR spin. Everything that Interwaste & Lonmin have said have been backed up with facts…

Also lets remember that this is a financial platform & most of us readers do want to know the financial viability of various businesses for investment purposes – this is the point of this platform. I for one appreciate the fact that financial matters are brought in as it give me an investment advantage in knowing what’s happening in various companies that are listed…

Well as an investor you should also be concerned as to whether these listed companies are complying with King III – particularly with respect to how their operations affect communities. As it stands – both these organisations have a poor track record in this respect – hence the interdict applied for by the DEA to have the operations of the Interwaste FG Landfill in Midrand shut down. Interdicts provided by the courts are based on factual evidence – which was supplied by the DEA.

@RSA of course as investors we care… and we want to know how it affects the bottom line and dividends…

I also do not need a lecture from you as to what I should and should not care about.

Well perhaps you do need a lecture as the bottom line and dividends should not be the primary concern of a shareholder – other aspects such as good corporate governance and social responsibility are also key factors for all listed companies (refer to King reports).
As for accepting everything at face value as put out by Lonmin and Interwaste – well, that doesn’t provide a balanced view of the situation.
Lastly, as a shareholder you should raise the following question with Interwaste – their waste vehicles are currently licenced by SABS. SABS is about to, or has, lost its authority to licence any organisation with respect to ISO standards. As such, these vehicles are not licenced to carry waste of any kind.

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