Sustainable air quality


Our ability to anticipate and respond to the changing regulatory and policy landscape is one of our most material challenges, particularly in the context of the air quality legislation applicable to our existing plants in South Africa.


  • We remain committed to compliance and to promoting sustainable ambient air quality improvement, thereby minimising the environmental impact of our activities.
  • We continue to improve our ability to track and report accurately on our environmental performance. During the year we rolled out the implementation of a lagging environmental indicator. As part of a more mature approach, we are also developing a set of leading environmental indicators aimed at proactively assessing our performance to improve our ability to prevent environmental incidents.
  • In South Africa, legislated minimum emission standards (MES) make provision for industrial point source emission limits. These MES require our plants to meet new plant standards by April 2020 by retrofitting abatement equipment where needed. Some of the new plant standards pose significant compliance challenges from a technical and financial feasibility perspective.

In proactively managing compliance within extended timeframes, we applied for and received initial postponements for a number of the MES applicable to existing plants in 2015 and 2016. As part of our postponement applications, we have outlined air quality improvement plans for these emission sources.

Some of the improvement plans include a roadmap to achieve a significant reduction in the emissions of six volatile organic compounds (VOC) by June 2020 (on our 2009 baseline), as well as ensuring successful implementation of approved offset plans for our Secunda facilities. Over the past year we have advanced the air quality improvement roadmaps and offset projects according to plan, and we continue to report our progress. To ensure success, these roadmaps and other environmental projects are supported by capital commitments. We have established a South African operations-wide governance structure to oversee the optimisation and execution of these projects.


Our air footprint

  • The R 3,4 billion VOC abatement project has shown significant progress over the past 12 months, with VOC emissions reducing from 46,2 kilotons in 2016 to 41,0 kilotons over the reporting period, providing momentum for the significant anticipated emissions reductions over the next year.
  • This year, our total NOx emissions of 152 kilotons (kt), showed marginal improvement, down slightly from 156 kt in 2016.
  • The reduction in total SOx emissions to 202 kt, down from 223 kt in 2016, was due to better coal quality.
  • Total particulate (fly ash) emissions remained relatively constant at 10,0 kt compared with 9,8 kt in 2016.
  • We submitted our annual reports on compliance with applicable AELs in South Africa to the respective authorities.
  • We received approval from the National Air Quality Officer for our air quality offset plans as per the conditions of the postponement decisions relating to our AELs.
  • We received the AEL for the gas engine power plant in Sasolburg in February 2017.