Surface mining industry association Aspasa (previously known as Aggregate and Sand Producers Association of Southern Africa) applauds the conference concept and the efforts of the organisers of the upcoming Joburg Indaba, Aspasa director Nico Pienaar tells Mining Weekly.
“The companies being represented at this year’s event are impressive, and the industry’s big guns that are scheduled to speak bring along a wealth of knowledge and experience,” he says.
The topics that will be covered during the event, to be held virtually on October 6 and 7, are key to the South African mining sector and its growth.
However, Pienaar notes that consideration could be given to the smaller, opencast and surface mining operations and their concerns when planning upcoming indabas and events.
“We feel that we are sometimes overlooked as a sector, even though our products are instrumental in the provision of critical materials for infrastructure development, which will help reignite the South African economy post Covid-19.”
Ironically, aggregates and sand are two of the most mined minerals in terms of volume.
In addressing one of the key topics at this year’s Joburg Indaba, Pienaar says “when there are people directly involved in any industry, the environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues come to the fore”.
Aspasa members have operations near towns and cities to allow for materials to be easily moved from their sites to the construction sites.
Importantly, when there is a mine, it employs workers from the local communities, which aids further community development.”
He suggests that this, in turn, leads to a heightened cognisance of the mines’ ESG processes.
Opencast ESG Breakdown
Meeting the social aspect of ESG is more challenging for quarries, as their turnover is not as high as those of other mining operations.
Another ESG challenge facing the quarrying sector is the governance aspect, specifically the implementation of well-developed environmental audits.
It is essential that all members’ operations are inspected yearly and that an appointed auditor checks all aspects of the operation.
Pienaar asserts that Aspasa’s About Face Audit, unlike other auditing programmes, is not only a tick-the-box system as
Aspasa wants members to “know” and understand their obligations and not just comply.”
Quarries also struggle with compliance as managers are often tasked with all regulatory issues at the operation, as opposed to employing individual people for each task.
He also points to changes in legal requirements often “ tripping up” quarries.
Pienaar concludes that governance is paramount to Aspasa and its efforts to ensure that members manage professional operations.