This year will usher in the opening of the Kolomela mine, Anglo American company Kumba Iron Ore’s R8.5-billion development near Postmasburg, in the Northern Cape, which is set to produce nine-million tons of iron-ore a year over 28 years.
“By the end of 2011, the Kolomela mine was 98% complete and we are currently busy with the hot commissioning of the plant,” says Kolomela Mine GM Aart van den Brink.
The new mine will create over 800 new permanent job opportunities for the Postmasburg community. For every permanent job created at the mine, up to three secondary jobs could be created in other industries. During the construction period of the mine, there was a turnover of more than 10 000 contractor jobs created.
In addition to new job opportunities, the Kolomela mine will build 718 new houses, which is above the normal industry standard, for its employees and their families.
“Construction started in June 2010. Just over 200 houses have been completed and handed over to the new residents. Housing construction will continue until the second half of 2012,” says Van den Brink.
Kolomela entered into a land agreement with the local municipality for the housing funds. This involves the installation of certain bulk services by the project in return for certain land allocations.
The local municipality, Kolomela and other funding partners, such as the Northern Cape government – which provided municipal infrastructure grant funding – the Department of Water Affairs and State-owned utility Eskom, all formed part of a public–private partnership to install bulk services for the development of the new houses and investigate future town development.
“The Kolomela project contributed about R42-million towards these bulk services. The construction of the 718 houses is a R550-million development project wholly funded by Kumba Iron Ore,” explains Van den Brink.
The Kolomela mine will be working hand in hand with the Postmasburg community to develop better healthcare, education and skills development facilities over the 28-year mining period.
“Part of investing in the town is to create a town that can attract professionals in different sectors. “The mine itself has conducted an attraction and retention study to determine exactly what we need to focus on to draw skilled and professional people to the area,” says Van den Brink.
Currently, the healthcare services and infrastructure in Postmasburg are in need of urgent development. After some discussions with the Postmasburg stakeholders, the Kolomela mine has committed to providing an initial R6-million towards the further development of primary healthcare facilities. This includes an HIV/Aids clinic that will offer testing, training and treatment of HIV-associated diseases like tuberculosis, as well as the dispensing of antiretro- viral medication provided by the Department of Health (DoH) for those infected with HIV. The initial cost of this facility is about R3-million.
An additional R5-million will be committed to a mobile healthcare unit, which will target remote rural communities that cannot reach these upgraded facilities.
Kolomela recently donated two fully equipped mobile medical units to the DoH for the provision of basic healthcare for the rural communities surrounding Postmasburg and, for three years, Kolomela will also assist with the salary payments of a registered nurse and nursing assistant. Their primary responsibility will be to render health serves through these mobile units.
“Mining legislation prescribes that a mine that financially commits to investing in the communities it operates in, as well as in the labour-providing areas from where the majority of its workforce originate.
“Anglo American’s commitment is to go beyond just compliance and this is definitely illustrated by the Kolomela mine,” explains Van den Brink.
Owing to the Kolomela mining development, Postmasburg has become one of the development hot spots in the Northern Cape, with the area experiencing an influx of skilled and professional people.
“The Kolomela mine strives rigorously to ensure that it constantly establishes and maintains stakeholder relationships to form strong partnerships with other role-players in both the public and private sectors. In doing so, we have a strong leg [to stand on] to attract the right people to the area,” says Van den Brink.
Kumba Iron Ore has also announced that R30-million will be invested in upgrading the Postmasburg provincial hospital.
The Kolomela mine will also be assisting in the development of education and educational facilities.
The mine has realised that the main contributor to the high unemployment level in Postmas-burg is the low level of education provided in the area.
Continually investing in and assisting all the schools in the Tsantsabane local municipality with funds and infrastructure, Kolomela will spend R13-million on providing two new Grade R facilities and additional classrooms at the Postmasburg primary school.
Through an additional R4.7-million, the mine is also committed to providing information and communication technology at all local high schools to help learners become fully acquainted with current computer technologies.
Further, the Kolomela mine expects all its employees to have a minmum qualification of Grade 12; therefore, Adult Basic Education and Training facilities will be made available to adults in the community.
This means, through partnership with the local DoE, facilities providing high-quality and up-to-date education will be available to all age groups of the Postmasburg community. This is in line with the local Department of Education’s (DoE’s) schools integration policy.
Another major priority for the Kolomela mine involves increasing skills development in the Postmasburg community.
“Around the country, the majority of school leavers experience difficulty finding employment or moving into the working environment, owing to a lack of practical skills and experience,” says Van den Brink.
In this regard, Kolomela will provide community members with an opportunity to enrol in skills development programmes, which will be available at the Kolomela Community Skills’ Centre currently in operation in Postmasburg.
This centre will provide unemployed school leavers and the youth with an opportunity to learn a variety of basic skills through accredited programmes that are focused on the local market.
This will include bricklaying, masonry, carpentry and welding skills. With these skills at their disposal, community members will be able to confidently seek employment, or better yet, create their own small businesses.
Not only will these skills devel- opment programmes raise the level of morale within the Postmasburg community, they will also improve the potential of self-sustainable small business owners and, ultimately, reduce unemployment in the area, says Van den Brink.
“The community is definitely positive. For a long time, the town had a stagnating local economy with increasing levels of unemployment and social ills. The mine provides the town with a robust and progressive approach to tackling the negative aspects of the community, such as low levels of skills and education, poor healthcare, a lack of infrastructure and unemployment,” he concludes.