The Group reports total charges or fines paid annually, and details of any environmental incidents or charges above the materiality threshold. The materiality threshold is based on a qualitative assessment (scope of impact on the environment, employees and communities and impact on operations) and a financial assessment (a single emissions charge in excess of $100,000) of each incident.
Environmental permitting and compliance
Environmental permits are granted for the Group’s operations, setting annual limits for emissions, water use and water discharge. If levels exceed these limits, charges are applied in proportion to the amount of emissions or usage in excess of the limits. The Group reports the total charges paid and any material environmental incidents (with materiality determined by their nature or resulting in a fine in excess of $100,000) in this report and in the ESG section of its website.
The Group paid environmental and emissions charges of $138,000 in 2020 (2019: c.$190,000). The majority of these charges are considered to be administrative in nature, and are not considered fines for breaches of regulations. Excess emissions charges are not related to any potential risk to the environment or the safe operation of our tailings facilities or other environmental management systems. In 2020, a single emissions charge of approximately $125,000 was incurred in relation to emissions in the East Region in 2018 as the maximum permissible emissions quota had not been updated to reflect the recommencement of operations at a boiler.
A new environmental code in Kazakhstan was passed into law on 2 January 2021. The new code represents a major modernisation of environmental regulations in Kazakhstan and KAZ Minerals was actively involved in the drafting stages, through the Mining Association.