Integrated steel and mining company ArcelorMittal SA announced that it will not challenge a ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) on its historical environmental plan to the Vaal Environment Justice Alliance (VEJA), the company announced on Tuesday.

ArcelorMittal was ordered by the SCA on 26 November to provide its environmental plan to VEJA and pay the communities legal costs.

This means that AMSA must make the documents available to VEJA by 17 December 2014.

ArcelorMittal to comply

“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,” commented ArcelorMittal South Africa’s CEO, Paul O’Flaherty.

A September 2013 High Court judgement ordered the miner to release its environmental ‘Master Plan’, as well as documents relating to its Vaal Disposal Site, which was upheld by the SCA.

ArcelorMittal SA said that the documents will be handed over to the VEJA within the stipulated 14-day period.

Environmental investigation

In 2002, ArcelorMittal South Africa commissioned consultants to conduct an assessment of the company’s environmental state and shortcomings.

In 2011 VEJA requested access to the ‘Master Plan’. VEJA’s request was made under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).

Internal working document

As a result of factual inaccuracies contained in the ‘Master Plan’, the fact that it was to be used as an internal document to determine areas of concern and the fact that it was out of date and had been superseded by a series of investments to improve environmental performance, ArcelorMittal SA was reluctant to oblige VEJA’s request, stated the company.

According to the Arcelor, the Plan was an internal working document created to assist in identifying areas where the company needed to focus its resources and efforts to effect various improvements.

“Significant changes in the environmental legislative framework over the years have led to more stringent environmental controls, thus rendering the plan outdated and irrelevant. On this basis, combined with other arguments, ArcelorMittal South Africa refused VEJA’s request for access to the documentation,” explained the company.