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Miner ups community investment

EMERGENCY DRILL The swift and effective response of emergency services is critical to safeguarding communities

ARBOR MONTH Two-hundred and fifty indigenous and fruit trees were planted, marking a significant step towards raising awareness about the significance of trees

17th November 2023

     

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As part of its several corporate social investment (CSI) initiatives, iron-ore major Kumba Iron Ore's Sishen mine, in South Africa’s Northern Cape province, celebrated Arbor Month by initiating a tree planting campaign and also conducted a joint emergency response drill with local government entities to improve collaboration and emergency response skills.

The tree planting endeavour aimed to emphasise the crucial role trees play, both as sources of food and construction materials, but also as vital producers of oxygen, with specific regions like Kathu, Siyathemba and Kuruman being chosen as focal points for Kumba's efforts.

In these areas, 250 indigenous and fruit trees were planted, marking a significant step towards raising awareness about the significance of trees and their potential to enrich local communities.

Sishen mine acting mine closure and rehabilitation advisor Dawid Malo highlighted the importance of the initiative and its intended impact in the community, noting that, apart from the fruit trees, Kumba Iron Ore grew the rest of the trees at its nursery on site.

“Being able to harvest and provide these trees to the community in a sustainable manner is key to our work,” he noted, adding that the miner managed to give community members hands-on experience during the planting process, and was able to educate the recipients about different planting methods, various ameliorants and how to take care of the saplings so that they can take root and grow.

Malo explained that trees have an important ecological role to fulfil within various habitats, including creating refuge for wildlife, reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere or simply helping to keep hot temperatures in check by providing natural shade.

Touching on the Siyathemba leg of the activation, Sishen mine resettlement officer Guita Joao explained that it is important to involve the near-mine community in community initiatives such as tree planting and care.

“We identified the Siyathemba Youth Centre, Soup Kitchen and Siyathemba Clinic among other facilities as ideal spaces to plant trees.

“We managed to get some of our community members to join in and help plant trees,” he said, noting that this not only helped educate them about how to take care of the trees, but also allowed them to be actively involved in the long-term investments in their community.

Disaster Emergency Drill

In recognising the key importance of community safety, Kumba Iron Ore – the South African iron-ore mining division of diversified miner Anglo American – prioritises a focus on enhancing the preparedness of emergency services, which saw the miner organising a disaster emergency drill a few months ago, involving an uncommon emergency scenario that may result in a disaster and produce mass casualties.

Kumba Iron Ore, in a statement, noted that in any emergency situation, the swift and effective response of emergency services is critical to safeguarding communities.

Key elements such as rapid response times, strategic organisational tactics, and maintaining open communication channels are vital components of an emergency response plan, the miner explained, noting that these factors not only facilitate efficient handling of diverse risks and situations, but also ensure the wellbeing and safety of people in times of crisis.

Partners including the South African Police Service, the Gamagara local municipality fire department and other disaster management teams, the local traffic department, solar photovoltaic plant operator Renewable Energy Investments South Africa’s Kathu solar project, chemicals company AECI and bulk materials handling company BME Group, all participated in constructing a simulation of a light-duty vehicle colliding with a bulk explosives truck near the main entrance of the mine.

Sishen mine fire prevention and emergency response services section manager Tshepiso Mosoma highlighted that not only are these types of drills critical in ensuring the adequate emergency systems are in place, but that such plans also create awareness regarding the types of site-induced emergencies that may impact near-mine communities.

In addition, Sishen mine is required to comply with its emergency and evacuation drills procedure, which requires the mine to conduct this type of emergency drill, yearly.

This is also in line with Anglo American’s Social Way policy, which requires the Sishen mine to comply with the policy’s emergency preparedness and response requirements.

Some of the positive insights gained from conducting the disaster emergency drill included teams only taking 14 minutes to arrive on scene, a further 11 minutes to extricate both entrapped casualty simulations from the light-duty vehicle and the teams only taking one minute to evacuate the emergency responders from the scene once the explosive truck’s cargo was simulated to catch fire.

Edited by Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

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