A multistakeholder initiative will see the development of a prototype large-scale agriculture and bio-energy agri-industrial hub on 30 000 ha of land across the Merafong City local municipality and Rand West local municipality, in the greater West Rand district.
This follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Sibanye-Stillwater, the Far West Rand Dolomitic Water Association (FWRDWA), the West Rand Development Agency (WRDA) and the Gauteng Infrastructure Financing Agency (GIFA).
The MoU, which will result in the steady collective development and implementation of the pioneering Bokamoso Barona agri-processing industrial cluster initiative, will promote sustainable economic activity in the regions, which are currently predominantly dependent on mining.
“The development of sustainable local economies beyond mining is a critical imperative and it was fortuitous that our agricultural initiative, which we have been working on for some time with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), dovetailed so well with that being developed by the WRDA and their partners,” said Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman.
Sibanye-Stillwater and the FWRDWA have together made available the 30 000 ha of land for the initiative.
The Bokamoso Barona initiative is further supported by the Public Investment Corporation and the DPME, whose active participation will assist in the effective implementation of the programme.
“More than four years ago, we had a vision as a company to fully immerse ourselves in the broader regional economic integration of our local economies and communities and to reaffirm our deep commitment to South Africa. I am pleased to see the progress that has been made, as well as the significant increase in the scope of this initiative,” Froneman added.
The agreement aims to facilitate a sustainable post-mining economy in the collective area and create employment through a particular focus on agriculture, the development and transfer of skills and the creation of labour-intensive opportunities, as well as facilitate comprehensive and sustainable local socioeconomic development.
The cooperative, multistakeholder approach also aims to accelerate transformation by providing ongoing development and training for the surrounding local communities.
The Bokamoso Barona Initiative is expected to be implemented responsively to the needs of the local communities, pave the way for the establishment of black entrepreneurs and industrialists, attract substantial investment from a range of commercial and development financing institutions and optimise the value derived through critical resources, most notably land and water.
“GIFA fully supports this worthy initiative as we see it complementing the industrial park and transportation hub programme that GIFA, together with a number of other stakeholders, including the local district municipality, is developing with the overall objective of stimulating growth and diversification of the local economy,” said GIFA CEO Oupa Seabi.
“There is still some way to go before implementation of the initiative and, owing to the complexity and scope of this ground-breaking initiative, there will no doubt be significant challenges that will need to be dealt with,” Froneman pointed out, highlighting that the successful commercial agri-industrial operations will depend on challenges beyond the scope of access to land.