Waste management

We work to minimise the impact of the waste our activities produce – and focus on the need to store waste ore safely.

Why this matters

Most of the waste our activities generate is waste rock and ore from mining. By managing this waste responsibly, we can reduce impacts on the environment and people – and mitigate the risk of structural failure of “tailings”, or stored waste ore.

Air emissions

Read more on how we work to minimise the impact of air emissions on the environment and on our communities.

Our approach

We have systems in place to dispose of waste rock responsibly. Types of waste include:


Our metal and coal assets generate waste ore, known as tailings. Tailings are kept in storage facilities.

Our tailings storage facilities are heavily regulated, and undergo regular inspections.

Our assets monitor these facilities continuously to ensure their integrity and structural stability – and implement a catastrophic hazard protocol to minimise risk.

Acid rock drainage

“Acid rock drainage” is caused when some types of waste rock are exposed to oxygen and water, forming atmospheric sulphuric acid.

We use a range of measures to manage this, depending on the material and where it is stored. For example, we cap dumps of waste rock, to prevent contact with air and water.

We reuse waste rock and ore as much as possible – such as in backfilling mines and building roads.

Hazardous mineral waste

8% less

hazardous mineral waste in 2016 compared to 2015

Principles we follow

UN Global Compact - Principles 7, 8 and 9

Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges

Principle 8: Businesses should undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility

Principle 9: Business should encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies

UN Sustainable Development Goals - Goals 12, 14 and 15

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources

Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss

International Council on Mining and Metals - Principles 6 and 7

Principle 6: Pursue continual improvement in environmental performance issues, such as water stewardship, energy use and climate change

Principle 7: Contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and integrated approaches to land-use planning

Our progress

In 2016 we continued to review tailings storage facilities.

We included tailings storage in our sustainability risk management system, and developed a protocol to identify and address the risk of catastrophic events.

As part of this protocol, assets self-assess risk and plan how to close gaps.

Next steps

Our assets will continue to evaluate and improve how they manage tailings; and we will continue auditing our high-risk tailings storage facilities.