SLP approach to community development too narrow

Sibanye-Stillwater chief sustainability officer Themba Nkosi

Sibanye-Stillwater chief sustainability officer Themba Nkosi

25th August 2023

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online


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Mining company Sibanye-Stillwater says that viewing social and labour plans (SLPs) as the driver for community development is too narrow an approach. Rather, the driver should be enduring social impact.

Operating in a variety of different social contexts, each of Sibanye's operational regions has created strategies to address the specific needs of the communities in the vicinity of its operations.

These strategies include the mines’ community development plans. These comprise the SLPs, which are delivered through local economic development (LED) projects in accordance with the implementation plans agreed to in the specific SLPs pertaining to each mining right. 

The company has 15 SLPs in place, nine of which apply to its various platinum group metal (PGM) operations in South Africa’s North West province and eight which apply to its gold operations in Gauteng, Free State and Mpumalanga.

“While our SLPs are guided by the Mining Charter, regulations that form part of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), they provide an opportunity for us to carefully craft long-term outcomes that will see these communities become more self-sustaining and more independent of the mines that they host currently but whose lives are finite,” Sibanye chief sustainability officer Themba Nkosi says.

Over the past decade, from 2013 to 2022, Sibanye spent a total of R13.5-billion on SLP implementation, made up of R9.3-billion going to SLPs in the gold sector and R4.2-billion to the PGMs sector.

Sibanye’s gold sector SLP expenditure grew steadily each year from R663-million in 2013 to R1.09-billion in 2022. Similarly, the company’s SLP expenditure in the PGMs sector grew from R365-million in 2017 to R1.09-billion in 2023.

The company reports that R472-million has been spent on corporate social investment (CSI) over the past ten years, made up of R294-million from gold starting in 2013, compared to PGMs, which saw R178-million CSI spend starting from 2017.

Total socio-economic development expenditure amounted to R7.04-billion over the decade, comprising of R1.5-billion from PGMs, from 2017 to 2022, and R5.5-billion from gold, starting in 2013.

The largest proportion of socioeconomic development spent went towards education, which enjoyed a PGMs sector investment of about R1.394-billion out of about R1.6-billion total over four years, from 2019 to 2022. Over this same period, PGMs invested R93.1-million in social infrastructure, R75.2-million in health, R22.4-million in food security, R3.1-million in economic development, and R1.3-million in skills development.

Over the same four years, the gold sector also favoured education, investing R106.9-million out of a total social economic development spend of R248-million.

Sibanye says one of the key objectives of its SLPs is to use and expand the existing skills base in education for the empowerment of historically disadvantaged South Africans and to serve the communities in which the company operates.

“Creating alternative economic opportunities will reduce dependency on the mining operations, minimise post-mine closure social impacts and provide sustainable benefits to host communities,” Nkosi says.

“Collaboration is key to working together with stakeholders and communities to identify opportunities to positively impact on the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality to build better, sustainable communities where we operate. I believe this will lead to social upliftment in and around communities in which we operate and ultimately for the benefit of the business and our people. It is all about sustainable socio-economic impact,” Nkosi says.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online




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