Executive vice-president for Africa and Europe Bruce Jones says that the company has many projects planned for local community development at its Dominion uranium project.
Firstly, Jones explains that the company does not believe in the hostel system, historically employed to house mineworkers.
Instead, the company’s employees from the local community are transported to work and back home.
During the apartheid era, the South African mining industry was known for the creation of single-sex hostels.
The hostel system was developed to house mainly migrant workers from the rural areas and neighbouring countries, and is associated with social and health problems, including HIV/Aids and TB.
“Our policy is in line with keeping our workers healthy and motivated. If they’re happy, they’ll work better. Plus, our HIV/Aids infection rate is far lower than if we had implemented the hostel system,” says Jones.
Next, the company has a planned labourrequirement for phase one of the Dominion uranium project which amounts, roughly, to2 750 workers.
The total number of workers in service in July of this year was 1 161, of which 94% wereemployed from local communities.
Uranium One’s skills development programme, which has been created for further development and potential appointment of individuals inmanagerial positions, consists of 16 historically disadvantaged South Africans.
Candidates in the programme will be educated in fields such as geology, metallurgy, sampling and survey, central services and engineering.
Also, the company has invested in a learnership scheme where ten learners are being trained towards a mining qualification.
Further, the Mining Qualifications Authority has approved an additional 32 learnerships of which eight will be in mining and 23 in engineeringapprenticeships.
Three hundred persons from Tigane – in Hartbeesfontein and other local townships – will also be trained in basic mining skills in collaboration with the Department of Labour and other relevant stakeholders.
The Rietkuil uranium section had beenidentified as the training ground for this project, and trainees will be selected in collaboration with local councillors with the prospect ofemployment on completion of training.
sxr Uranium One’s community projects
The company has set aside R31,7-million for the provision of potable water for the local communities in Hartbeesfontein and Tigane.
In 2004, the shortage of potable water supply was identified in Hartbeesfontein and Tigane, says Jones.
The area’s current supply is taken from boreholes – some of which have already dried up.
“Uranium One realises its responsibilities to the local communities. The supply of potable water to the mine was successfully negotiated with the local authorities from Matlosana and will beextended to Hartbeesfontein and Dominionville,” states Jones.
Development of the water supply infrastructure has followed the granting of the miningright, awarded in October, and Jones says that its quality and quantity of supply will be guaranteed to local communities.
He believes that there will be many livelihoodimprovements as a result of a sustainable water supply.
In other developments, Jones says that sxr Uranium One has identified the need to upgradethe Rietkuil and Dominionville power sub-stations.
The upgrade is seen as necessary for bulksampling and future mining, and it will alsobenefit local communities and a future school to be built in Dominionville.
The total cost for the power upgrade isR24-million, and this should ensure a continual supply to communities.
Jones adds that as mining decreases, more power will be available to local communities.
In order to tackle the issues of education inthe area, the Department of Education identified the need to combine understaffed farm schools in the greater southern district region.
Also identified by the department was the lack of suitable land for the school.
The ‘Mega School’ (a combination of farm schools in the district) structure proposed by the department requires approximately fivehectares of land.
sxr Uranium One, in response to the proposal,offered to donate about 50 ha of suitable land near Dominionville on the granting of its miningright.
The company says that the Mega School will pro-vide primary and secondary school education with a community centre and hostels for the learners.
Additionally, the mine will contribute to adult basic education and training, technical education, skills development and skills transfer to the local communities, says Jones.
Added to these developments are Uranium One’s plans for sewage treatment works that it plans to build near Dominionville.
Initially, this development is to serve themining operations near Dominionville; how-ever, the local community and the Mega School will be able to connect to this sewage treatment plant in the future.
Benefits to the community include the mini-misation of ground water pollution, the avail-ability of the facility after mine closure, as well as an improvement in the overall health and wellbeing of the community.
Finally, drawing on one of the most widely used natural resources on earth, Uranium One is investigating a bamboo project.
According to Uranium One, one-sixth of the global population live in bamboo homes and about two-billion rely on it as a source of income.
The company intends to grow bamboo on its slimes dams, thereby allowing further jobcreation.
The project structure is to include blackeconomic-empowerment participation andencourage economic development.
It estimates that about 500 jobs can be created for every 100 ha of forest created.
Other direct benefits include rural renewal, sustainable development, poverty relief, live-stock feed, energy production, infrastructuredevelopment and water purification plants.
“The benefits we see to the community lie not only in the developments we’re pioneeringhere,” explains Jones, “but also in the fact that we’re generating wealth and keeping it in the communities.” He sees other benefits for the larger South African community, especially in the development of nuclear energy as an alternative to coal-fired stations.
The company estimates that, for phase one of its operations, the tax on revenues will be close to R3-billion, the remuneration paid to itsemployees to be R2,6-billion, and the tax benefits to the South African Revenue Service to be R780-million.