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Water, as a resource, is becoming increasingly limited as world demand for water increases. A significant part of our operations requires the use of large volumes of water. Maintaining water supply to our operations needs to be viewed against the backdrop of drought conditions occurring in several regions of South Africa.

Managing water supply risks

Water risks are assessed using the Sasol global enterprise risk management approach. Through this approach, we assess the impact of water risks to our North American, Eurasian, Mozambique and South African Operations. Currently the greatest water risks lie within our South African Operations, with the Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS) being relied on to supply 88% of the Group total water demand. The water supply to Sasol’s operations from the IVRS remains secure but long-term water supply risks persist due to a growing supply-demand imbalance which increases the probability of water restrictions being imposed on our operations in the long term. Sasol continues to actively respond to this risk through site and catchment based activities which advance water supply to all catchment users. We are in support of the strategy being driven by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) to reduce urban losses, treating and recovering legacy mine water and implementing Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Progress with these projects is achieving varied results and we continue to engage the DWS in expediting these actions to advance long-term water security for all users of the IVRS. The DWS has reconstituted a strategy steering committee for the IVRS on which Sasol is represented. While the current IVRS water levels are encouraging, compared to the previous period, the system continues to experience infrastructure challenges increasing the risk to our South African Operations. 

Sasol continues to provide ad-hoc support to the DWS to maintain infrastructure availability. We have implemented site-specific water targets and continue to participate in the planning and performance monitoring activities of the IVRS. On-going participation in integrated watershed management initiatives is key to our water stewardship focus.

Reporting against voluntary water targets

Sasol’s largest water users continue to report against voluntary water targets, agreed in 2015 and applicable up to 2020. Our Sasolburg Operations’ target is to maintain the 2015 baseline of 9,8 tons of water use per ton product – external sale; this year we deteriorated by 6,4% against the baseline. This is attributed to a greater demand for river water due to the need for increased fire water and dilution requirements. The Secunda Synfuels Operations’ target is to achieve a 2,5% improvement in water intensity against actual consumption in 2014 of 11,6 tons of water per ton of saleable product. This year we reported a 2.1 % deterioration against the baseline. The deterioration can be attributed to low production due to external electrical infrastructure failure.

Further, our mining operations reported a 29.3% reduction in water demand during 2018 against the 2015 baseline, well exceeding the target to restrict the increase in potable water use to a maximum of 10%.