Wesizwe Platinum – Committed to Sustainable Development
13 October 2014
Wesizwe Platinum – Committed to Sustainable Development
(this article was published in the October 2014 edition of Mining CSI magazine)
Wesizwe Platinum recognises sustainable development as a strategic business imperative. The company's approach focuses on ensuring the long-term success of its core project, the Bakubung Platinum Mine, whilst at the same time contributing to the economic growth of local communities. On a practical level, Wesizwe looks to contribute to the overall prosperity of local communities through the creation of jobs, investment in local skills development and training, providing support for local business through goods and services procurement, and the creation of effective social and labour plan investment programmes. The company's holistic approach to the development of the Bakubung Mine project demonstrates the fine balance between social and environmental factors and sound economic considerations.
Improving local health care facilities
Over the past year, significant progress has been made in the implementation of Wesizwe's SLP (LED) projects, all of which will benefit the residents of the local communities located close to the Bakubung Platinum Mine. One of the highlights has been the refurbishment of the Bakubung Clinic. The facility, operated by the state and local health services, had previously failed to meet the demands of the local communities of Ledig, Matooster and Mahobieskraal. As a result, Wesizwe undertook to upgrade the clinic by building a maternity ward and additional consulting rooms, and augmenting existing facilities to enable the facility to operate 24 hours a day. In September this year, the refurbishment project reached completion, marked by the external work including landscaping of the grounds, building of carports and walkways, and construction of a new guardhouse being finalized. Clinic staff are now operating fully from the site, and a dedicated Youth Coordinator has been assigned to manage the refurbished Youth Centre, which will now enable the comprehensive provision of life orientation programmes such as HIV/AIDS awareness and other youth related activities.
Providing educational infrastructure support and upliftment
The educational infrastructure in the Ledig, Matooster, Mahobieskraal and Phatsima villages was identified to be in a poor state of repair and of a low standard, impacting on the ability of learners to achieve. Wesizwe embarked on a programme to complete the upgrade of all eight schools in Ledig, thereby contributing towards the upliftment of primary and secondary education within the area by upgrading existing infrastructure and providing development training to local educators in the fields of mathematics and science. Phase 1 of the educational infrastructure projects commenced in 2011 and was completed in 2012, with phase two starting in 2012 and it is being implemented still. 2014 has seen a continuation of this work with a major project undertaken to refurbish existing ablution blocks at Khayalethu Secondary School and construct new ablution blocks at Bothibelo Primary School. The first phase of the Khayalethu renovation project was competed in August this year and work continues to construct the remaining ablution blocks at the school. The Bothibelo ablution block construction project is progressing well and is currently at super structure (window seal level) on both blocks. A school paving project in Ledig was also completed in August of this year, with 8 schools receiving new paved walkways in the school grounds, making the lives of the pupils and teachers alike much safer and more pleasant.
Recognising the role of agriculture in the local economy
Wesizwe has undertaken to support the establishment of the Bakubung Agricultural Project by providing funding, infrastructure and training programmes. The project will offer a wide range of agricultural and employment opportunities to the Ledig and neighbouring communities. To aid the project's crop farming development, a new farm manager was appointed in August this year, and in July a young local woman was selected as the new Project Extension Officer to encourage youth involvement in agricultural activities. Wesizwe is also involving community members from Ledig and Phatisma in the agricultural project, with 10 local people selected to work on phase 1 of the initiative. The building phase of the project is currently underway, with workers constructing the shade net structure, to be followed by the planting of seeds in October of this year. Essential infrastructure development work has already been completed to construct new storage and ablution blocks, install power, and clear farm roads and fire breaks. Work on water reticulation is now underway. In terms of livestock farming development, monthly project meetings with local farmers continue, and a cooperative has been formally registered. To support local skills development, a 4-day fully accredited and certified training workshop on first aid for local farmers was held in August this year, and a life-skills training programme was also undertaken in September.
Committed to skills development
As part of its human resource development programme, Wesizwe is ensuring that mining specific skills and competencies exist within the local community, whilst at the same time developing portable skills that employees can use outside of the mining sector in the future. Initiatives currently underway include a learnership programme, developing critically needed skills for young people in a wide variety of trades, in line with the National Development Plan's identified skills shortages. Running alongside this programme is Wesizwe's portable skills development initiative, the vision for which is to provide both the company's employees and the local community members with practical trade skills (such as bricklaying, tiling, welding, plumbing and carpentry) to aid their current and future employment prospects.
Wesizwe has also launched an internship programme as part of its integrated skills development programme, based on current industry needs and aimed at supporting skills development in the core and support functions of the mining industry. This internship programme not only provides currently unemployed graduates with the opportunity to improve their current employment potential, but it also ensures a pipeline of skilled and experienced young people for the Bakubung Platinum Mine's future development needs. Wesizwe recently launched its prestigious bursary programme, providing support to the country's top performing and most needy students and the opportunity to continue their studies at South Africa's leading universities in the fields of mining and mechanical engineering. The company's Rock Drill Operator training programme, which falls under its Core and Critical Skills Programme, also commenced on 21st April this year.
Ensuring access to water in local communities
Wesizwe has undertaken to support its local communities by continuing to supply water to local communities pending the completion of the planned bulk water project in the area. Water is delivered to 35 community water tanks, twice a day, 7 days per week, and 365 days each year. The water is also delivered to local schools. As a result, the local community and school learners receive essential water supplies on a daily basis to meet their basic needs. Wesizwe also undertakes maintenance of the water tanks and, as a result, all community water tanks were cleaned in July this year.
Providing access to information and advice
Wesizwe's project to construct a new community office has been completed, with power installed in the building and all internal construction works finalized. Procurement work is currently underway to finalise the purchase of essential IT equipment and furniture to make the office fully operational. In terms of security for the building and grounds, construction on a new guardhouse has been completed and security fencing is now being finalized. Construction work on the new access road to the office is nearing completion.