This is following a judgement by the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) on 26 November 2014, with the company saying it acknowledges the ruling and will not challenge the decision.
“The SCA’s decision will be respected and the plan will be delivered within the court-stipulated timeline. We are steadfast in our belief that we have not veered from our principle of rehabilitating our environment to the best of our ability,” said company chief executive, Paul O’Flaherty.
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“In the last five years, we have spent more than 1.5 billion rand on numerous environmental projects, including the Vereeniging Dust Extraction facility and the Vanderbijlpark Sinter Bag House, while we remain committed to achieving high standards of water management and the recovery thereof.”
VEJA’s request was made after ArcelorMittal South Africa, which was still trading as Iscor at the time, commissioned consultants to conduct an assessment of the company’s environmental state in 2002.
The South African steel and mining company explained that the plan was to be used as an internal document and had been superseded by a series of investments to improve environmental performance.
“ArcelorMittal South Africa’s position has always been that the plan was an internal working document and was created to assist in identifying areas where the company needed to focus its resources and efforts to effect various improvements,” it said.
“It can be likened to any “unmitigated” risk document that any good corporate company would prepare in determining what risks need to be managed and controlled in order for the company to meet its strategic objectives.”
According to the company, it was on this basis as well as other arguments that it refused VEJA’s request for access to the documentation.
[DATA ACL:ArcelorMittal South Africa] added that it continues to engage with NGOs and local communities at all its operational locations.
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“We have engaged with 40 local community organisations over the last year, with key concerns documented and responses provided, which is ultimately aimed at achieving our commitment to supporting and developing our communities,” O’Flaherty stated.
“In addition to improving our environmental footprint, we have provided assistance and support for education, health, social upliftment projects, while employee volunteering in the communities by ArcelorMittal South Africa and ArcelorMittal group employees has been a regular feature.”