Ivanhoe pursuing sustainability, socioeconomic initiatives as it strives to transform industry

Ivanhoe Mines president Marna Cloete

Ivanhoe Mines president Marna Cloete

20th June 2023


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Mining is an essential business, and it is the collective responsibility of all stakeholders to change the industry to be modern and responsible, so that it can continue to sustain lifestyles and livelihoods, while also engendering positive change in its areas of operation, Ivanhoe Mines president Marna Cloete tells Mining Weekly. 

“I often say, everything you see in a room is either mined or farmed, yet the latter does not have as bad a reputation as the former, which I think can be attributed to what people associated mining with in the past.  

“However, modern mining companies, by contrast, should be responsible entities that make a considerable, positive impact on the areas where they operate; create real change in people’s lives; and [contribute to providing] access to services like education [in their host communities],” she emphasises. 

In this vein, Cloete avers that Ivanhoe is striving to be an “industry leader” in pursuing these goals, highlighting that the company is setting the trends for creating partnerships with local stakeholders and communities, and devising innovative solutions to solve collective problems in areas where it operates. 

She points out that Ivanhoe has identified several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as key to the company and has undertaken initiatives that are aligned to achieving those goals.  

These are SDG 1 No Poverty; SDG 3 Good Health and Wellbeing; SDG 4 Quality Education, SDG 5 Gender Equality; SDG 6 Water and Sanitation; SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production; SDG 13 Climate Action; and SDG 15 Life on Land.

From a supply point of view, and aligned with SDG 13 and SDG 12, Ivanhoe produces the resources that will assist in transitioning the world to a low-carbon, renewable future.

The company is focused on developing and expanding its four principal mining and exploration projects in Southern Africa. 

This entails the expansion of the Kamoa-Kakula copper mining complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); progressing the Platreef discovery in South Africa to production by third quarter 2024; the extensive redevelopment and upgrading of the historic Kipushi mine in the DRC, also scheduled for first production by third quarter 2024; and exploration at the Western Foreland Exploration Project, next door to Kamoa-Kakula. 

With regard to SDG 5, Cloete states that one of the company’s goals is to attract more women to the industry and change the perception of it as solely a hard-labour environment, aiming to make it a more inclusive and captivating industry, for both employees and entrepreneurs.


Cloete emphasises that: “If you’re operating in Africa, you need to have a big social agenda.”    

Cloete notes that Ivanhoe has very successfully implemented a model for this at Kamoa-Kakula, where it is actively partnering with its communities on a number of fronts. 

This was undertaken from the onset, when Ivanhoe was still in the exploration phase, whereby the company started small livelihood businesses in its communities. 

Initially, this provided access to basic food security for community members, and now, as the company scales this up, it entails assisting in providing the opportunity for business opportunities, with Ivanhoe Mines purchasing fresh produce for its 12 000 plus workers at the mine, Cloete says. 

She explains that Ivanhoe began by training community members in commercial farming and then assisted some members to start their own businesses,  and built these to the necessary capacity required to supply the mine with produce. 

This has already proven so successful for some businesses, that they are also selling to different markets. 

This is aligned to SDG 1, she notes, and further, to SDG 3, as it provides community members with access to a variety of food and protein sources. 

For SDG 4, Ivanhoe has several initiatives in its footprint areas that revolve around education, Cloete says, with the company having built several schools. 

Expanding the reach of our educational initiatives, we recently constructed and launched two early childhood development centers near our Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex.

Moreover, Ivanhoe Mines is currently building the ‘Kamoa Centre of Excellence’, a tertiary learning facility offering degrees and diplomas in collaboration with internationally accredited institutions that will provide access to quality education for youth in its mining area. 

In South Africa, Cloete highlights, the company’s black economic empowerment transaction, at Platreef mine, is also a “trendsetter”, having been completed before the Mining Charter was revised to necessitate higher ownership targets. 

This entailed establishing a community trust whereby communities adjacent to the mine owned about 20% of the mine, and the company also gave shares to entrepreneurs that owned small businesses around the mine and were registered on its database. 

“If our interests are aligned, this will ensure that the mine operates successfully. Further, this will also allow the wealth to be spread to our footprint area,” Cloete enthuses. 


Concerning SDG 13, Cloete says Ivanhoe operates using hydropower in the DRC. 

She explains that, when the company was first securing infrastructure in the country, it realised that while water was abundant, energy supply was problematic.  

It, therefore, embarked on a mission to identify all hydro projects in the DRC that needed refurbishment to add additional megawatts to the grid. 

It is now undertaking this refurbishment through public-private partnerships). This ongoing work has already added 78 MW to the grid, Cloete informs. 

Ivanhoe is in the midst of adding another 178 MW via its partnership on the Inga II hydro-power facility.

Through this, Ivanhoe ensures power supply to its mine, and further, adjacent communities benefit from additional power from the grid. Moreover, the company receives a reduction in its power rates, she highlights. 

South Africa, meanwhile, also has well-documented energy supply challenges; however, a “breakthrough” has arrived in the form of legislation allowing for self-generation of electricity.

As such, Ivanhoe is in the process of pursuing solar and wind energy options for its Platreef mine, Cloete informs.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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