To balance the socio-economic benefits of developing the Gamsberg project with the need to preserve the unique biodiversity of an arid zone, Vedanta has developed a clearly defined biological biodiversity action plan.
At the outset, the Ecological Engineering and Phytoremediation Programme of the University of the Witwatersrand was employed to determine the socio-economic impacts associated with mining in the Northern Cape.
A plan was then developed, outlining how the mine would avoid, minimise and remedy the impact of mining activity on the environment. This involved robust public consultations with various stakeholders.
Vedanta has since partnered with a global non-governmental organisation (NGO), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in compliance with a zero offset agreement aimed at "no net loss" of biodiversity features due to the Gamsberg footprint and related projects.
Gamsberg is located in the ecologically sensitive Succulent Karoo Biome, which represents one of the world's 35 "biodiversity hotspots", according to a Conservation International 2005 report. The region contains more than 400 unique succulent plant species – the largest number of succulent plants in the world for a region of its size. Within the Gamsberg ecosystem, there are approximately 397 plant species, 16 of which are recognised as endemic.
"The Gamsberg Project represents a significant opportunity for us to grow the local economy and create jobs while remaining committed to a long-term plan to rehabilitate a region rich in biodiversity," says Deshnee Naidoo, Chief Executive Officer, Vedanta Zinc International and Copper Mines of Tasmania.
Vedanta is committed to leaving a positive legacy when its operations close. The company has, therefore, committed to closure processes that reflect best practice in terms of sustainability and environmental rehabilitation.