Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Sakina Kamwendo speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Kamwendo: Mine dump communities are growing their own vegetables with the help of mining company DRDGold.
Creamer: DRDGold is listed in Johannesburg and New York. It has realised that it needs to assist the people living around areas where it recovers gold from old mine dumps. Because of the shortage of ground close to urban centres, a lot of people are needing to live on ground around the dumps, and 8 000 of them have now expressed great keenness in growing their own vegetables as part of a subsistence initiative. The vegetables are grown on an area the size of a door and that is enough to feed a family of four.
What happens is that many of these people then scale up and some of them have now gone into business, because there is also an opportunity to get direction from DRDGold as to how you go into business. DRDGold shows those interested how to budget and how to look at the markets and where to find opportunities. What DRDGold is encouraging is for the money that builds up as a result of economic activities around the dumps to stay within the subsistence economies those communities rather than go to be lost in the formal economy.
People do trading amongst themselves and some of them have gone into what is called MyBusiness, which can involve urban farming at scale and yard chickens and eggs. A lot of the mine workers, although they work in the urban recovering the gold from these mine dumps, they actually regard their home as being in rural areas, so a lot of them take DRDGold’s MyBusiness idea to the rural areas and engage in rural farming, including livestock farming. This has given them an opportunity to create wealth among themselves and already more than 8 000 have shown very keen interest in growing their own food.
Kamwendo: African Rainbow Minerals executive chairperson Dr Patrice Motsepe yesterday highlighted his company’s commitment to fighting climate change.
Creamer: It is very important for the corporate leaders to pronounce on climate change, because every time we hear the big mining companies report these days, particularly when they are active internationally, they have either been struck down by drought, or their mines have been flooded, which is a manifestation of climate change, which they have personally experienced at great cost to their shareholders. African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) is part of the International Council of Mining and Metals, a global association that has all the major global companies as its members.
This international council has set climate standards and encouraged all their members to start decarbonising and installing renewable energy plants. That is exactly what is now happening at ARM. ARM is reducing its carbon footprint. ARM executives spoke yesterday of generating 100 megawatts of solar power for the company’s platinum operations. Another 80 megawatts of renewable solar power is planned at ARM’s ferrous operations in the Northern Cape. At the same time, electric vehicles are becoming part of underground mining.
This is important from a health point of view, but also the running of diesel-fuelled trucks underground has become very expensive, because the price of diesel has rocketed so much. When they bring in the electric vehicles, they find that there is less heat underground. When there is less heat underground, less ventilation is required, and when less ventilation is required, less electricity is needed. So everything is falling into place as ARM lowers the carbon footprint of its mines, and Dr Patrice Motsepe is giving decarbonisation his full blessing.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.