Anglo America plc commenced construction of the Skorpian zinc mine and refinery in southern Namibia.
Southern Namibia is classified by Conservation International as one of the world’s top 25 biodiversity ‘hotspots’. The main concerns of the Namibia Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) were that the habitat was extremely sensitive and could not recover after disturbance and that the exploration might cause irreparable damage.
An EMP, including a specific Exploration EMP, was developed by company personnel in conjunction with stakeholder representatives. In addition, a Rosh Pinah Environmental Forum was formed to develop site-specific plans for exploration areas. Stakeholder involvement led to an agreement to restrict drill site access to single tracks on grid lines, to use wide low-pressure tyres and lightweight drill rigs, to ban camping within the Sperrgebiet, to rehabilitate all drill sites and access tracks and to monitor the drillers’ environmental conduct daily.
As part of follow-up, site visits were conducted with all stakeholders, ‘before and after’ photographs were taken and biannual audits were conducted with full reporting. Spot checks were conducted, and all stakeholders signed off on the rehabilitation of previously affected areas.
Large tracts of ground have been returned to their original state at minimal cost after exploration activities. The level of environmental awareness and regard for the importance of biodiversity by all exploration staff increased considerably, and an excellent relationship of trust developed between Anglo American and MET staff.