By investing in the people who live in its host communities, energy company Exxaro states that it is investing in the future of South Africa.
“Our company depends on communities and our success is intrinsically linked to their sustainability. Without them, we would not be where we are today,” said Exxaro executive head of stakeholder affairs Mzila Mthenjane, who was speaking after the release of the miner’s yearly results.
Exxaro noted that its results again reflect the company’s commitment to economic and social sustainability programmes that drive development across Mpumalanga and Limpopo, where its largest operations are situated.
Over the 2021 financial year, Exxaro invested over R1-billion in economic empowerment initiatives in the communities in which it operates, with particular focus on enterprise and supplier development (ESD), local procurement spend and investment in black small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs), as well as community infrastructure projects.
“Poverty and inequality are rife in many of our communities. Through strategic investments into developing SMMEs, education and infrastructure, among others, we are exceptionally proud to play an active role in uplifting our people and being able to make a significant positive impact aimed at breaking the cycle,” commented Exxaro community development manager Tebogo Leepile.
The company achieved a local procurement spend of 11.3% amounting to R1.05-billion, exceeding the company’s target of 10% and more than doubling the 4.5% achieved in 2020. Through this focus on local businesses, Exxaro empowered 241 local, black-owned SMMEs.
During the year under review, Exxaro approved total ESD funding of R127.7-million to 15 SMMEs employing 243 people. Onboarding and support were provided to 97 beneficiaries on the contractor development programme, in partnership with educational institution the Gordon Institute of Business Science. Further, 29 enterprise owners were supported through the financial excellence programme in partnership with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.
A total of R64-million was spent on the completion of schools; an ESD hub; and water and sanitation infrastructure projects through the company’s social and labour plans, in both the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.
A total of 205 jobs were created during the construction phases of the various projects, which have positively impacted on more than 53 000 community members, including 272 households, school children, women and youth entrepreneurs.
In Emalahleni local municipality, 272 households benefited from the Thubelihle sewer reticulation project, which directly connected them to the municipal sewer infrastructure at a sum of R5.7-million. The project has created 41 jobs.
At the end of 2021, the upliftment of water valves in Mzinoni has resulted in sustained water pressure for the community and provided 20 jobs during the construction phase. More than 7 800 residents from Mzinoni have directly benefited from the project, which cost R2.3-million.
Health and Safety
The health and safety of employees and communities remains the company’s top priority amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In line with Exxaro’s Integrated Health and Wellness Strategy – which focused on diagnosis, management and prevention of diseases – the company’s response to the pandemic prioritised avoiding, reducing and managing Covid-19 infections.
The company set a target to vaccinate 80% of employees and contractors and, as of March 2, 2022, 81.45% of employees and contractors had been vaccinated, with no loss of life recorded during the fourth wave.
Host communities will also benefit from Exxaro’s commitment to a Just Energy Transition. The company established the decarbonisation project management office in June 2021 to coordinate its decarbonisation activities. A groupwide decarbonisation system and 2050 carbon neutrality plan has been established and the company is on track to reduce current emissions by 40% by 2025.
As part of this sustainability strategy, over the past financial year, the company has implemented the Grootegeluk solar PV project; execution of the pollution prevention plans; and finalisation of divestment activities for Leeuwpan.
The company has committed to an impact investment approach that seeks to ensure socioeconomic resilience aligned to decarbonisation initiatives, which form part of its Sustainable Growth & Impact Strategy, launched in September 2021.
“Through our voluntary commitments to the international benchmarks – such as the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals; UN Global Compact, among others, as well as our local commitment to the National Development Plan 2030 – our focus is on people as much as it is on business performance. Our yearly financial results, therefore, are an indication that together we can focus on organisational success and build socioeconomic benefit for South Africans,” concluded Mthenjane.