Environmental and energy review

Environmental management approach

PPC believes in operating a sustainable business and we are committed to reducing the environmental impact of our operations while continually improving environmental performance. We ensure that sustainability is an integral part of our business strategy while striving to minimise or eliminate impacts and maximise benefits.

We encourage all our customers, suppliers and business associates to meet similar environmental goals.

PPC is committed to:

Our environmental issues
Our response
Management approach

PPC is committed to environmental compliance, based on sound environmental management. To track and maintain this compliance, we have developed environmental legal registers linked to environmental management systems. Environmental registers identify relevant risks and obligations associated with our operations. These are regularly reviewed, particularly when legislation changes.

Compliance monitoring is verified through dedicated assessments/audits such as environmental management plan reviews (EMPRs), authorisations such as water use licence (WUL), air emission licence (AEL), and waste management licences. Internal assurance audits ensure we assess the effectiveness of our controls. In the review period, legal audits were conducted at PPC Lime, De Hoek, Riebeeck and Slurry, Hercules, Beestekraal and Port Elizabeth. The outcome of these audits is used to ensure compliance and inform continual improvement measures across our operations.

PPC's international operations manage compliance against international standards where local legislation is not yet fully developed. These are guided by the requirements of the International Finance Corporation and other lender institutions. At our Rwanda operation, visible emissions towards the shutdown period were successfully addressed by installing more efficient bags to avoid recurrence.

Authority compliance inspections were conducted at several South African operations: Dwaalboom, Hercules, Riebeeck, De Hoek, Lime Acres, Pronto, Mooiplaas and Laezonia. At our aggregate operation, a DMR inspection noted non-submission of a performance assessment. In our international operations, similar inspections were conducted at Colleen Bawn, Barnet and Bulawayo plants with no formal reports issued.

After a successful remediation and rehabilitation programme following a diesel spillage at Lime Acres, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) was satisfied with the specialist report that confirmed the area was fully rehabilitated and soil-analysis results met legislated standards.

NOx emissions at De Hoek remain a challenge in meeting legislated standards. In addition to process optimisation, we engaged international specialists to advise on appropriate measures. We are currently sourcing suitable suppliers of alternative fuels to meet operational requirements in addition to the waste tyre initiative.

Environmental authorisation to upgrade the Slurry 8 bag filter has been granted. This is planned for FY2019 and will reduce particulate matter emissions at Slurry to under 2020 legislated limits.

Energy management and climate change

Energy management
Management approach

In the review period, PPC approved a formal energy policy with the following pillars:

Energy consumption and performance
Energy consumption – PPC Cement SA
Energy terajoules (TJ) 2018   2017   2016  
Direct (thermal/coal) 13 041   12 752   12 793  
Indirect (electrical) 1 691   1 651   1 636  
Total 14 733   14 402   14 430  

Direct energy rose 2,2%, mainly due to greater use of less-efficient kilns to meet demand, as well as increased use of tyres as an alternative to coal. While this process increases specific heat consumption, it provides an alternative energy source and therefore reduces the dependency on fossil fuel. Indirect energy was also up by 2,2%, again due to the use of less-efficient kilns and increased stop/starts.

Energy performance – PPC Cement SA
Energy intensity 2018   2017   2016  
Thermal-specific heat consumption (MJ/kg clinker) 3,97   3,95   3,88  
Electrical-specific energy consumption (kWh/kg cement sold) 105   104   117  

Year on year, both thermal and electrical consumption increased by less than 1,0% from 2017.

PPC is implementing an energy management system, in collaboration with the National Cleaner Production Centre. A group of identified employees to lead this implementation started expert-level training in the final quarter of 2018. Implementation at our fully integrated cement plant sites is under way and energy teams at sites are now functional. These teams have identified opportunities for energy savings, some of which will be implemented in the coming year.

PPC's alternate fuel use programme has started with a feasibility study on using refuse-derived fuels for our Western Cape operations. Further exploratory work is under way with an industrial group on using its waste streams for thermal co-processing in our cement kilns. Our aim is to provide alternative solutions to society to divert waste materials from landfill and reduce dependency on virgin fossil fuels.

Aligned to our energy policy, we are investigating solar projects by requesting proposals across our operations to support a move to using a higher proportion of green energy.

In collaboration with the Association of Cementitious Materials Producers (ACMP) and the Climate Technology Centre and Network, PPC acted as a host site for a desktop assessment of using waste heat recovery and mineral carbon capture to reduce CO2 emissions while still producing a viable by-product. The project has moved to the next phase of securing development funding for a pilot plant to be built to assess the feasibility of upscaling to plant operation.

Energy management in our international operations

Key points include:

Climate change
Management approach

We recognise that climate change is a global challenge and acknowledge that our business contributes to emissions generated from thermal and process activities. As such, we need to enhance our actions to address climate change. Our commitment is evident in the roll out of our energy management policy, alternative fuel programme, energy management systems and clinker factor reduction.

Carbon footprint

PPC monitors its carbon footprint through comprehensive data collection, as well as continually assessing its direct and indirect emissions and energy consumption. We continue to improve our data collection and analysis to improve accuracy and assurance through internal verification audits.

CO2 emissions Total   Direct   Indirect  
Cement, lime and dolomite 4 450 471   3 902 912   547 559  
Cement SA 3 470 226   2 994 198   476 028  
Cement Zimbabwe 488 641   459 991   28 650  
  Cement South Africa
  * 2016 represents six-month performance

Due to operational challenges and demand that required running less-efficient kilns (Riebeeck and Hercules), CO2 performance was flat. Commissioning of Slurry's SK9 is expected to unlock significant opportunities to reduce emissions in 2019.

Carbon emission intensity for the South African cement operations is reflected below.

PPC participates in the Carbon Disclosure Programme (CDP), the global benchmark for carbon disclosure. Our submission is externally verified and we disclose scope 1 and 2 emissions from our South African cement operations. In the CDP 2017 ratings, PPC improved on its prior-year performance to score B.

Efficient and responsible use of water resources

Management approach

We operate in regions that differ in terms of availability, supply and scarcity of water resources. Given the impact of climate change and extreme weather conditions, we reviewed and enhanced our water strategy to ensure we protect our natural capital and generate value. Our integrated approach to water management is based on a core principle that considers the lifecycle of operations and managing water-related impacts beyond our operational boundaries through:

  Water consumption (% savings)
Our performance

Total water consumption declined 16% to 2,8 million cubic metres for 2018 versus 3,3 million cubic metres in the prior year. A large proportion of this reflects water-saving initiatives at Riebeeck, De Hoek and Dwaalboom. The benefits of our sewage treatment recycling plant are emerging as 40% of water consumed was recycled as process water, offsetting potable water consumption at Colleen Bawn.

Response to Western Cape water challenges

Severe drought conditions in the Western Cape continued in 2018, resulting in the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) promulgating several restrictions on the provincial water supply system. These included a 40% reduction for domestic and industrial water use from 1 October 2017, subject to further review based on availability of the water resource. De Hoek saved up to 60% of its water consumption through efficiency, innovation and alternative sourcing. At Riebeeck operations, 95% of process water consumed comes from the quarry and potable water is strictly for domestic use.

Case study: PPC De Hoek water strategy 2017

The Western Cape has been declared a disaster area due to prolonged drought. The annual rainfall for 2015 was the lowest in 111 years, and the trend showed no improvement in following years.

At De Hoek, which abstracts water from the Berg River for domestic, irrigation and process use, historical minutes of meetings note that the Berg River ran dry in 1938, causing the factory to close for a period, with job losses. In addition to numerous water restrictions over time, minimal flow was observed in 1947, 1948 and 1950.

PPC De Hoek's water-saving initiatives in recent years, summarised below, have reduced water per tonne of clinker from 0,95kl (2012) to 0,62kl in the review period:

  • Intensified awareness sessions for employees, surrounding communities and local schools
  • Water restrictions which include scheduled irrigation activities
  • Implementing newer technology that uses less water (all electrostatic precipitators converted to bag filters) and strengthening process optimisation
  • Improved monitoring network of all flow meters to manage and monitor water consumption
  • Investing in a desalination treatment plant to clean water in the old quarry at De Hoek as a contingency measure

Commendably, PPC De Hoek has realised a water saving of around 60% for 2018 measured against its five-year average, exceeding provincial targets.

Dual benefits from modern technology

The benefits of converting Dwaalboom's kiln 1 electrostatic precipitator to a baghouse was evident in dust emissions meeting minimum standards and a significant 85% reduction in water use for kiln 1 from 59 590 cubic metres to 9 326 cubic metres. This was the main contributor to the 11% reduction in total site water consumption.

Water use authorisation

PPC engaged the DWS on outstanding information for the Dwaalboom water use licence application. DWS requested additional information, eg dirty-water storage dam as-built plans and specific storage licence and design drawings. These were resubmitted to the department. DWS also requested a commitment to line the pollution control dam, coal stockpile and sewage ponds.

PPC Barnet successfully negotiated a quantity reduction for raw-water harvesting as the quantity initially allocated was excessive, resulting in high tariffs. After a 22% cost reduction was achieved, PPC is paying for 1 700 cubic metres instead of 2 200 cubic metres from March 2018.

We commit to 5% reduction in water consumption across the group by end of 2019.

Our commitment to environmental management systems

Air quality management

Management approach

Cement and lime manufacturing releases air emissions such as dust (particulate matter or PM), sulphur dioxide (SO2), and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). In our South African operations, all point sources are monitored continuously for these emissions, except for Port Elizabeth and Riebeeck where kiln gases are monitored with a portable analyser.

At our international operations, we have focused on improving the efficiency and reliability of continuous emission monitoring systems. Our aim is to equip all stacks with continuous emission monitoring equipment by 2020.

Our performance

The performance of our South African cement kilns, including lime, have been monitored year on year in line with our programme to comply with minimum emission standards. NOx emissions for South African operations are monitored continuously using gas analysers. Due to the lack of service providers and long turnaround times to repair equipment, some of our continuous monitoring was compromised in the review period. As such, emission factors were used to calculate NOx and SO2 at Slurry kiln 7, Riebeeck 2 and Port Elizabeth 4.

Dust   NOx   SO2  
2018   2017   2018   2017   2018   2017  
Tonnes 744   660   9 815   11 480   685   699  

Dust emissions rose due to the increased use of kilns not fitted with the latest bag filter technology. In line with legislative requirements, PPC is eliminating the use of these units by 2020.

NOx emissions improved on the prior year's performance. Dwaalboom faced challenges in meeting minimum emission standards for NOx. Given the severity of the issue, NOx was ranked as the top risk on Dwaalboom's risk register and management's focus was on sustainably reducing emissions to compliance limits. This was achieved through a number of technical and innovative initiatives. The Dwaalboom team aims to further reduce NOx emissions to below the 2020 limit of 800mg/Nm3.

Although introducing waste tyres as an alternative energy source generated additional benefits (reducing NOx emissions by 13%), additional process improvements will be needed to achieve future emissions standards at DH6.

Our dust (PM) emissions did not improve. With the introduction of Slurry's SK8 filter upgrade, new SK9 and retirement of SK7 in 2019, we anticipate a considerable reduction in emissions.

All our South African cement, aggregate and lime operations are registered on the National Atmospheric Emission Inventory System, an annual online reporting portal for air pollutants and greenhouse emissions as required by the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act 2004. Reporting for 2018 was completed.

To improve ambient air quality, fugitive emissions are managed through measures to minimise dust fallout. As part of our dust fallout programme at our Zimbabwe operation, the clinker loading facility was upgraded and truck yard paved.

Resource conservation and alternative fuel resources

Management approach

Most PPC operations are in low-sensitivity environments. In line with proactive land and resource stewardship, we consider the impact of our mining operations across the full cycle from exploration, to operational, decommissioning and closure. Our environmental footprint is managed through annual fly-over surveys, ad hoc minimum standard assessments and six-monthly projects for maintaining firebreaks and rehabilitated land.


PPC's mine rehabilitation remains on track, with 95% of disturbed land restored. Rehabilitation is concurrent with mining operations and, where possible, rehabilitated land is leased to neighbouring farmers for cultivation.

PPC De Hoek has run a trial on preserving top soil, with laterite clay material successfully used as an alternative growth medium for planting wheat on 5ha of rehabilitated land. Yield results for the trial portion were satisfactory to both PPC and the end-user.

In response to new legislation (National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 (NEMA), as amended, and associated financial provisioning regulations 2015 (government notice 1147 gazetted on 20 November 2015)), PPC adopted a risk-based approach to assessing its annual and closure liability in terms of the financial provision for prospecting, exploration, mining or production operations. The process to align our current financial provision to published regulations is under way, facilitated by an external independent practitioner. All South African facilities with mines are being assessed in line with regulation 11 of the financial provision regulations, which requires the holder of a right or permit to ensure a review is undertaken for:

Due to the transition to NEMA regulations, an increase in PPC's provision for rehabilitation, decommissioning, closure and post-closure maintenance may be required to ensure compliance.

Waste management
Management approach
Waste hierarchy
Waste hierarchy

Although the cement industry is not unduly waste intensive, PPC continues to focus on programmes that apply the waste hierarchy set out in legislation, informed by the general principles of waste management and continued focus on reducing the amount of waste disposed to both municipal and onsite landfills. Cement manufacturing presents an opportunity to enhance this hierarchy by adding co-processing (see diagram). Co-processing is a cost-effective means of substituting coal to reduce global environmental impacts. It is a sustainable way to conserve natural resources and a long-term solution to treating different types of waste.

In 2018, we generated 3 950 tonnes of general waste, of which 38% was recycled by our sites. Of the 1 417 tonnes of hazardous waste generated, 21% was recycled. We will continue to ensure optimal recycling of hazardous waste.

Stakeholder engagement

PPC is committed to interacting with environmental stakeholders through various channels of communication. Stakeholders at site level are engaged at least twice a year. The purpose of these engagements includes updates on environmental management aspects related to emissions, water and any issues of concern. Regulatory processes such as environmental impact assessments and environmental management plans involve engaging with local communities as well as interested and affected parties. EIA consultations took place at PPC Lime and Assen mining rights application.

At group level, our proactive and transparent engagement process with various government stakeholders, directly and through the Association of Cementitious Material Producers (ACMP), resulted in legislative reform that benefited all parties. During the year, topics for engagement included carbon tax, waste exclusion, climate-related policies and emission pathways.