The mine is located in a wetlands area, which is an important habitat for many species of plants.
According to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, mining, predominantly for coal, and other industrial activities in the area are the main contributors to poor in-stream and riverside habi-tat conditions. Redman says that portions of the wetlands will unavoidably be destroyed during mining operations, but that Anglo Coal has committed to preserve wetland plants and plant more to use in populating rehabilitated mining areas.
The company is also working with government to rehabilitate existing degraded wetlands in the Upper Olifants river catchment area, to compensate for the wetlands that will be affected by the mine.
Isibonelo mine manager Clive Ritchie says that the environmental planning, especially regarding the wetlands, which formed part of the mine’s licensing requirements, was fairly challenging because it was not a process with which Anglo Coal had had much experi- ence.
Nonetheless, by the time of its official opening, Isibonelo had suc-cessfully completed the off-site rehabilitation of the degraded wetlands in the Upper Olifants river catchment area.
Anglo Coal has also committed to the restoration of some of the wetlands on site.
Further, Redman says that a group of local women was hired to dig up wetland plants in areas that would be affected by mining activities and replant them in special plots where they could be protected.
They will be used to replenish wetland areas nearby or to rehabili- tate the Isibonelo site over the 20-year life-of-mine.
Anglo American is also partnering with Working for Wetlands, a South African nongovernmental organisation, to train people in rehabilitation skills and care for off-site wetlands, to compensate for those lost on site owing to mining activities.
Flower (em)Power(ment) On the community-development front, Anglo Coal is involved in growing and promoting a flower farm situated just south of the mining operations at Isibonelo.
While the company, Sunbali Flowers, has been in operation for over nine years, the company has revived it and established an employee trust, through which the 12 workers who founded the nursery now own 40% in the business.
Sunbali Flowers supplies around 100 000 chrysanthemum stems a month to markets in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Port Eliza- beth, as well as to florists in the Mpumalanga region.
The enterprise-development arm of Anglo American, Anglo Zimele, owns 20% of the company and the balance is owned by Isibonelo colliery.
Colliery management also assists the farm in ensuring that financial governance is entrenched and strict health and safety guidelines are followed, such as protective clothing, correct storage of insecticides and proper waste disposal.
The nursery employs 14 people and generates a turnover of some R80 000/y.
The venture is also now looking to change the ratio of first-grade and choice-grade flowers produced by the nursery so that most of its produce will be choice grade.
Further, Sunbali has also implemented an incentive programme through which employees are encouraged to cut a specified number of stems over a three-month period.