Will the Proposed 2025 Air Quality Listed Activities affect your Business?

Since they were first published in 2010, the air quality Listed Activities have undergone several amendments. These amendments aim to ensure that the application of the Listed Activities remains relevant, fit for purpose, and consistent with the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) and the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act (NEM:AQA).

The latest round of proposed changes to the Listed Activities are significant, and are particularly material for the chemical processing industry and users of multiple small package boilers that are declared as controlled emitters. Stakeholder consultations for the proposed amendments began in September 2022 and subsequent stakeholder meetings were hosted by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) in April and November 2023. Input from stakeholder consultations will be incorporated into the draft amendments. According to the DFFE, these are expected to be published for public comment before the end of 2024. Once public comments have been considered, the final amendments will be implemented, and it is possible that the new Listed Activities will be gazetted into law in 2025.

The list beneath shows all present and future listed activities. Hyperlinks indicate new additions, or changes to existing subcategories. Click on a link to be directed downward to further information on the new subcategory, or the proposed change of the existing subcategory:

Category 1: Combustion Installations

1.1 Solid Fuel Combustion Installations 1.2 Liquid Fuel Combustion Installations 1.3 Solid Biomass Combustion Installations 1.4 Gas Combustion Installations 1.5 Reciprocating Engines 1.6 Waste Cofeeding 1.7 – 1.11: Small boilers with Cumulative Capacity ≥ 50MW NHI (Net Heat Input) per facility: 1.7 Solid fuel fired small boilers 1.8 Liquid fuel fired small boilers 1.9 Gaseous fuel fired small boilers (CNG or LPG) 1.10 Gaseous fuel fired small boilers (Process Gas) 1.11 Solid biomass fired small boilers

Category 2: Petroleum Industry

2.1 Combustion Installations 2.2 Catalytic Cracking Units 2.3 Sulphur Recovery Units 2.4 Storage and Handling of Petroleum Products 2.5 Industrial Fuel Oil Recyclers

Category 3: Carbonization and Coal Gasification

3.1 Combustion Installations 3.2 Coke Production 3.3 Tar Processes 3.4 Char, Charcoal and Carbon Black Production 3.5 Electrode Paste Production 3.6 Synthetic Gas Production and Cleanup

Category 4: Metallurgical Industry

4.1 Drying and Calcining 4.2 Combustion Installations 4.3 Primary Aluminium Production 4.4 Secondary Aluminium Production 4.5 Sinter Plants 4.6 Basic Oxygen Furnaces 4.7 Electric Arc Furnaces (Primary and Secondary) 4.8 Blast Furnaces 4.9 Ferroalloy Production 4.10 Foundries 4.11 Agglomeration Operations 4.12 Prereduction and Direct Reduction 4.13 Lead Smelting 4.14 Production and Processing of Zinc, Nickel and Cadmium 4.15 Processing of Arsenic, Antimony, Beryllium, Chromium and Silicon 4.16 Smelting and Converting of Sulphide Ores 4.17 Precious and Base Metal Production and Refining 4.18 Vanadium Ore Processing 4.19 Production and or Casting of Bronze, Brass and Copper 4.20 Slag Processes 4.21 Metal Recovery 4.22 Hot Dip Galvanizing 4.23 Metal Spray

Category 5: Mineral Processing, Storage, Handling

5.1 Storage and Handling of Ore and Coal 5.2 Drying 5.3 Clamp Kilns for Brick Production 5.4 Cement Production (using conventional fuels and raw materials) 5.5 Cement Production (using alternative fuels and/or resources) 5.6 Lime Production 5.7 Lime Production (using alternative fuels and/or resources) 5.8 Glass and Mineral Wool Production 5.9 Ceramic Production 5.10 Macadam Preparation 5.11 Alkali Processes

Category 6: Organic Chemicals Industry

6.1 Combustion Installations 6.2 Production of Lower Olefins 6.3 Production of Aromatics 6.4 Production of Oxygenated Compounds 6.5 Production of Nitrogenated Compounds 6.6 Production of Halogenated Compounds 6.7 Production of Sulphur Containing Organic Compounds 6.8 Production of Organometallic Compounds 6.9 Polymers – Polyolefins 6.10 Polymers – Polyvinyl Chloride 6.11 Polymers – Polystyrene 6.12 Polymers – Emulsion Polymerised Styrene Butadiene Rubber 6.13 Polymers – Solution Polymerised Rubber Containing Butadiene 6.14 Polymers – Polyethylene Terephthalate Fibres 6.15 Polymers – Production of Viscose Fibres 6.16 Polymers – Polyesters 6.17 Polymers – Polyamides 6.18 Organic Pigments and Dyes 6.19 Surface-Active Agents and Surfactants 6.20 Carbon Disulphide

Category 7: Inorganic Chemicals Industry

7.1 Production and or Use in Manufacturing of Ammonia, Fluorine, Fluorine Compounds, Chlorine, and Hydrogen Cyanide 7.2 Production of Acids 7.3 Production of Chemical Fertilizer 7.4 Production, Use in Production or Recovery of Antimony, Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium, Cobalt, Lead, Mercury, and or Selenium, by the Application of Heat 7.5 Production of Calcium Carbide 7.6 Production or Use of Phosphorus and Phosphate Salts not mentioned elsewhere 7.6 Production of Caustic Soda

Category 8: Thermal Treatment of Waste

8.1 Thermal Treatment, General & Hazardous Waste 8.2 Crematoria and Veterinary Waste Incineration 8.3 Burning Grounds 8.4 Drum Recycling Processes

Category 9: Pulp and Paper Manufacturing

9.1 Lime Recovery Kiln 9.2 Chemical Recovery Furnaces 9.3 Chemical Recovery Copeland Reactors 9.4 Chlorine Dioxide Plants 9.5 Wood Burning, Drying and the Production of Manufactured Wood Products

Category 10: Animal Matter Processing

Animal Matter Processing

The table below concisely presents the proposed amendments:

Category 1
Addition of Subcategories 1.7 to 1.11: Combustion Installations
Category 1 of the Listed Activities currently has 6 subcategories and regulates:

- boilers with design ratings ≥ 50 MW net heat input (NHI) per unit (Subcategories 1.1 – 1.4),
- reciprocating engines with design ratings ≥ 10 MW NHI per unit (Subcategory 1.5),
- combustion installations that co-feed waste with conventional fuels (Subcategory 1.6).

Subcategories 1.7 to 1.11 currently do not exist.
It is proposed that additional Subcategories 1.7 – 1.11 be added to Category 1. These subcategories will apply to two or more “small boilers” that are currently classified as Controlled Emitters (as per GN 831 of 2013) which cumulatively exceed 50 MW NHI at a single facility.

Small boilers that are classified as Controlled Emitters have design ratings of between 10 and 50 MW NHI per unit. It is proposed that the cumulative capacity be obtained by summing the boiler NHIs at a single facility, but only if those boilers are Controlled Emitters. Boilers smaller than 10 MW will not be included in the sum. It does not matter if the boilers are fired on different fuels, they will still be summed.

If the sum exceeds 50 MW then the amendment proposes that these Controlled Emitters will require an Atmospheric Emissions Licence (AEL). Additionally, these facilities must report annually to the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory System (NAEIS) platform.

Controlled Emitters are already subject to emissions limits and these emissions limits will not change if the cumulative capacity exceeds 50 MW.

It is proposed that facilities that trigger the new Subcategories 1.7 – 1.11 be provided with a transitional period of 12 months within which to apply for an AEL (if these facilities don’t already have an AEL for other activities at the site) or to apply for a variation of their existing AEL to include the new subcategories.

Boilers that are too small to be classified as Controlled Emitters (i.e. have individual NHIs that are below 10 MW) will remain unregulated, and will not be included in the cumulative capacity calculations. Instead, these boilers will continue to be regulated by municipal by-laws.
Category 3
Subcategory 3.6: Synthetic Gas Production & Cleanup
An emissions limit of 3 500 mg/Nm3 for hydrogen sulphide (H2S) has applied since the 01st of April 2020.
The proposed amendments remove the emissions limit of 3 500 mg/Nm3 for H2S, but do not offer a replacement limit. It is anticipated that the amended emissions limit will be significantly stricter than 3 500 mg/Nm3. The DFFE is still in discussions with the affected industries regarding an appropriate limit. It is proposed that Subcategory 3.6 activities will need to comply with the replacement limit within 5 years of promulgation of the amendments.
Category 4
Subcategory 4.7: Electric Arc Furnaces (Primary & Secondary)
It is not clear whether the words “primary and secondary” refer to primary and secondary furnaces, or primary and secondary metal processing activities.
It is proposed that the words “furnaces, including ladle furnaces” be inserted after the words “primary and secondary” so that the title reads: “Subcategory 4.7: Electric Arc Furnaces (Primary and Secondary Furnaces, including Ladle Furnaces)”. This will clarify that Subcategory 4.7 applies to primary and secondary electric arc furnaces, including electric arc ladle furnaces – and not to primary and secondary metal processing activities.
Category 4
Subcategory 4.17: Precious and Base Metal Production and Refining
There is no threshold associated with Subcategory 4.17 and thus it applies to all activities that are involved in the production and processing of precious and associated base metals through chemical treatment.
It is proposed that a threshold of 500 grams of product per month be implemented. This will exclude micro-producers and micro-processors of precious and base metals.
Category 4
Subcategory 4.21: Metal Recovery
The description of this activity currently reads: “The recovery of metal from any form of scrap material by the application of heat”. However, the application of the subcategory by licensing authorities is inconsistent because it is unclear what constitutes “scrap”. Furthermore, the use of the word “scrap” implies that this Subcategory applies only to the recovery of metal from other scrap metals, and excludes different types of waste (like tyres).
The proposed amendments alter the description to read “The recovery of metal from any form of scrap metal and/or material and waste material by the application of heat (excluding secondary aluminium production covered under Subcategory 4.4 of the List).” This should ensure that Subcategory 4.21 regulates those who recover metals from other types of waste, particularly waste tyres. Furthermore, the recovery of aluminium from scrap is explicitly excluded from this subcategory.

In the first stakeholder meeting on the 07th of September 2022, Yellow Tree highlighted that Subcategory 4.21 is inconsistently applied. The current description of Subcategory 4.21 is “The recovery of metal from any form of scrap material by the application of heat” which implies that any facility recovering any type of metal from any type of scrap should be regulated.

However, Subcategory 4.21 is seldom applied in this way. When “clean scrap” is recycled into aluminium, steel and copper, Subcategory 4.21 is not applied at all. This is because there are other Subcategories like Subcategory 4.4 (Secondary Aluminium), Subcategory 4.10 (Foundries), and Subcategory 4.19 (Production and or Casting of Bronze, Brass and Copper) that apply to these recycling processes.

This issue was raised again on the 21st of April 2023, and the DFFE agreed that particular activities like those that recycle “clean scrap” should explicitly be excluded from Subcategory 4.21. In the latest proposed amendments, aluminium scrap recovery was explicitly excluded, but copper and steel were not.
Category 5
Subcategory 5.1: Storage & Handling of Ore and Coal
This subcategory currently applies to those storing and handling coal in a location that is not on the premises of a mine/works as defined in the Mines Health and Safety Act 29/1996. The threshold of this activity is currently: “locations designed to hold more than 100 000 tonnes.”
It is proposed that the title and description which use the word “and” be amended to use “and/or”. Further, the exclusion has been amended from “a location that is not on the premises of a mine or works as defined in the Mines Health and Safety Act 29/1996” to “a location that is not in a mining area as defined in the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act”. The title will then read “Storage and/or handling of Ore and Coal”. The description will then read “Storage and/or handling of ore and coal not situated in a mining area as defined in the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.”.

The threshold will also be amended and will read “Locations designed to hold or handle more than 100 000 tonnes throughput per annum”. By adjusting the threshold from an absolute value of 100 000 tonnes, to a throughput of 100 000 tonnes per annum, coal or ore handling facilities which have high throughputs, but were not previously regulated because they have small storage facilities (such as trade ports), will become regulated.
Category 6
Addition of Subcategories 6.1 to 6.20: Organic Chemicals Industry
Industries that use and produce organic chemicals are currently regulated under one all-encompassing listed activity: Category 6. However, there is sometimes confusion about which chemicals are regarded as “organic chemicals” and therefore trigger this category. As a result of the widespread confusion, the DFFE has indicated that this is one of the most under-regulated industries. There is also confusion regarding which pollutants are required to be sampled for which organic chemical processes. The proposed amendments indicate that Category 6 will be split into 20 subcategories, each with pollutants and corresponding emissions limits that are specific to the activity that is regulated.
Subcategory 6.1: Combustion Installations

Description: Combustion installations not used primarily for steam raising or electricity generation.
Application: All furnaces; heaters and reactors.

*Subcategories 6.2 – 6.8, 6.13 and 6.20. Application: All installations producing more than 100 tons per annum of the listed chemical or installations using more than 100 tons per annum of the listed chemical.

Subcategory 6.2: Production of Lower Olefins.

Description: The production of lower olefins from virgin naphtha, natural gas, and gas oil. The use of lower olefins in manufacturing processes.

Subcategory 6.3: Production of Aromatics

Description: The production of aromatic compounds. The use of aromatic compounds in manufacturing processes (including production of cyclohexane).

Subcategory 6.4: Production of Oxygenated Compounds.

Description: The production of oxygenated compounds. The use of oxygenated compounds in manufacturing processes.

Subcategory 6.5: Production of Nitrogenated Compounds

Description: The production of nitrogenated compounds (excluding explosive manufacturing processes). The use of nitrogenated compounds in manufacturing processes (excluding explosive manufacturing processes).

Subcategory 6.6: Production of Halogenated Compounds.

Description: Production of halogenated compounds. The use of halogenated compounds in manufacturing processes.

Subcategory 6.7: Production of Sulphur Containing Organic Compounds.

Description: Production of sulphur containing organic compounds. The use of sulphur containing organic compounds in manufacturing processes.

Subcategory 6.8: Production of Organometallic Compounds.

Description: Production of organometallic compounds. The use of organometallic compounds in manufacturing processes.

*Subcategories 6.9 - 6.19. Application: All installations producing more than 100 tons per annum of the listed chemical, and not installations using the listed chemical.

Subcategory 6.9: Polymers – Polyolefins.

Description: The production of polyolefins.

Subcategory 6.10: Polymers – Polyvinyl Chloride.

Description: The production of vinyl chloride.

Subcategory 6.11: Polymers – Polystyrene.

Description: The production of polystyrene.

Subcategory 6.12: Polymers – Emulsion Polymerised Styrene Butadiene Rubber.

Description: The production of emulsion polymerized styrene butadiene rubber.

Subcategory 6.13: Polymers – Solution Polymerised Rubber Containing Butadiene.

Description: The production of solution polymerised rubber containing butadiene.

Subcategory 6.14: Polymers – Polyethylene Terephthalate Fibres.

Description: The production of polyethylene terephthalate fibres.

Subcategory 6.15: Polymers – Production of Viscose Fibres.

Description: The production of viscose fibres.

Subcategory 6.16: Polymers – Polyesters.

Description: The production of polyesters.

Subcategory 6.17: Polymers – Polyamides.

Description: The production of polyamides.

Subcategory 6.18: Organic pigments and dyes.

Description: The production of organic pigments and dyes.

Subcategory 6.19: Surface-active Agents and Surfactants.

Description: The production of surface-active agents and surfactants.

Subcategory 6.20: Carbon disulphide.

Description: The production of carbon disulphide. The use of carbon disulphide in manufacturing processes.
Category 7
Subcategory 7.2: Production of Acids
Subcategory 7.2 currently applies to the production, bulk handling and or use in manufacturing of hydrofluoric, hydrochloric, nitric and sulphuric acid (including oleum) in concentration exceeding 10%. Subcategory 7.2 also applies to the production of acid sulphites of alkalis, alkaline earths, liquid sulphur, sulphurous acid, and the secondary production of HCl through regeneration. It is proposed that the words “handling; and/or use” be inserted into the title so that it reads “Production; Handling; and/or Use of Acids”.
It is proposed to remove the term "bulk handling" from the description, therefore excluding the bulk handling of acids. The bulk handling of acids is not expected to produce significant emissions. However, this contradicts the proposed amendment to the heading, where the word "handling" has been added. Clarification on this issue is expected in the next publication of proposed amendments.
Category 9
Subcategory 9.4: Chlorine Dioxide Plants
Subcategory 9.4 currently applies to the “Production and use of chlorine dioxide for paper production”.
It is proposed that the description be amended to “Production and use of chlorine dioxide for pulp; and paper production.”
Category 9
Subcategory 9.5: Wood Drying & the Manufacture of Wood Products
The description currently reads: “The drying of wood; and the manufacture of laminated and compressed wood products.”
As a result of a High Court judgment in 2021, indirectly fired kilns are to be excluded from this subcategory. The description is to be changed to “The drying of wood using directly fired kilns; and the manufacture of laminated and compressed wood products.” You can read more about this here. In 2018, the 10 % oxygen reference that was applicable to pollutants that are reported under this subcategory was removed because it is not appropriate for directly fired kilns. However, it was noted that the proposed amendments once again include a 10 % oxygen reference. This appears to be an error, and the issue was noted by the DFFE.
Category 10
Animal Matter Processing
Category 10 applies to the “rendering, cooking, drying, dehydrating, digesting, evaporating or protein concentrating of any animal matter not intended for human consumption”. This category has no emissions limits. Instead, best practices that minimise or avoid offensive odours must be implemented. However, Section 21 of NEMAQA obligated the Minister of the DFFE to declare minimum emissions standards (MES) for all Listed Activities. Thus, the fact that no emissions limits have been set for Category 10 is inconsistent with NEMAQA.
Emissions limits for Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S), Ammonia (NH3) and Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs) have been proposed. Facilities that were operational, or received Environmental Authorisation prior to the amendments being published will be given 5 years to become compliant with the emissions limits.
1. Small boilers are not defined because there are currently no Listed Activities that refer to small boilers.

2. Total volatile organic compounds are defined as “organic compounds listed under USEPA Compendium Method TO14.” This is an inappropriate description that refers to an obscure list of VOCs that are seldom encountered in South African industry.
1. It is proposed that small boilers be given the same definition as in The Declaration of a Small Boiler as a Controlled Emitter. Existing small boilers are defined as those manufactured before 01 November 2013. New small boilers are defined as those manufactured after 01 November 2013.

2. Volatile organic compounds are proposed to be defined as “any organic compound as well as the fraction of creosote, having at 293.15 K a vapour pressure of 0.01 kPa or more, or having a corresponding volatility under the particular conditions of use.”
Does not currently exist.
It is proposed that paragraph 1A, which reads “Production, consumption, usage and processing rates thresholds prescribed in the section 21 notices shall refer to the design rates” be inserted.
Paragraph 3 states “Should normal startup, maintenance, upset and shutdown conditions exceed a period of 48 hours, section 30 of the National Environmental Management, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998), shall apply unless otherwise specified by the Licensing Authority.”
It is proposed that this be rewritten as: “Normal start-up and shut-down period shall be limited to a 48 hour period.”
Paragraph 19 currently states that emissions reports must be submitted on the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory System (NAEIS).
It is proposed that paragraph 19 be amended to state that emissions reports must be submitted on the South African Atmospheric Emission Licensing and Inventory Portal (SAAELIP).

What next?

As discussed, it is expected that the draft amendments will be circulated for public comment in the Government Gazette before the end of 2024. If your facility is one of those potentially affected, we encourage you to provide your comments to the DFFE once the draft amendments have been published. Alternatively, you may share them with us, and we will communicate them to the DFFE.

If your listed activity is changing, please do contact us to discuss whether you now require an AEL, or whether your existing AEL will need to be varied. If you require clarity on whether one of these categories will now apply to your site, we would love to chat.