Environmental, Social And Governance
At Bushveld Minerals, we believe we must limit the effects of our operations on the surrounding environment. Our ability to continue to operate these multi-decade-old assets will allow us to make them more efficient and environmentally-friendly. During the course of the year we embarked on the installation of an off-gas scrubber to reduce dust emissions at Vametco, built a new tailing dump to prevent groundwater contamination and rehabilitated our current tailings dams to eliminate fall-out dust.
Bushveld Minerals plans to upgrade Vametco’s baghouses (air emissions abatement equipment) to reduce particulate matter and cap its tailings dams to prevent groundwater contamination.
We are also initiating an ISO 14001:2015 certification process to align our Environmental Management System with international standards.
We see our employees and organised labour as an intrinsic part of our business and are committed to building sustainable, healthy and cooperative relationship with them. Bushveld Minerals employed a total of 503 employees and contractors in 2018, 84% of our employees are members of the local communities in which we operate.
In the spirit of building a platform for shared success we are developing an Employee Share Participation (“ESOP”) that will closely align Vametco’s workforce to its operational targets. Further updates and progress on the ESOP will be provided as appropriate.
Furthermore, Bushveld Minerals is developing an Employees Financial Wellness Programme that includes personal financial planning, debt consolidation, debt counselling and debt provision. The wellness programme is being implemented through a financial services provider with extensive experience in this sector to improve the financial well-being of our employees.
Bushveld Minerals believes in building and maintaining meaningful partnerships with the communities where our operations are based. We intend to ensure that the local communities enjoy sustainable uplift from our commercial activities. In 2018, in compliance with our SLP commitments, we:
- invested in renovating schools and healthcare clinics in Brits; and
- supported education programmes such as bursaries, internships, learnerships, computer training and portable skills.
In addition, owners of the land on which Vametco is situated, generate an income from Bushveld Minerals in the form of surface lease payments. Our commitments to our local communities go beyond the SLP obligations contained in our mining right. We have committed to constructing a comprehensive community development strategy, which will target the following key areas:
- Enterprise development
- Health care
At the heart of this strategy is the Peo Matlafatso Trust, a community development trust established by Bushveld Minerals to house a shareholding of up to 12.5% in the Vametco operations that was allocated as part of BBBEE shareholding, at the time of the purchase of Vametco. A professional team will be assembled to run the Trust and leverage this shareholding to develop a platform for meaningful economic participation by the local communities in Vametco.
Bushveld Minerals is committed to high standards of corporate governance and social responsibility. We continuously evaluate our governance policies and take a rigorous approach to Board and committee planning. Board and committee composition is constantly reviewed to ensure strong corporate governance.
Creating a Safe and Responsible Operating Environment
Bushveld Minerals believes in building and maintaining meaningful partnerships with its multiple stakeholders including the communities in which our operations are based. Our interest is to ensure that the local communities see meaningful, sustainable upliftment from our commercial activities.
At Bushveld Minerals, we recognise that the well-being of our employees and communities is vital for our long-term success, and we intend to build on the foundations already put in place in the operating assets we have acquired over the past two years.
We are determined to make our operations sustainable. This includes ensuring our employees enjoy a healthy and safe working environment, operating in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, and adding value to all stakeholders. Bushveld Minerals’ long-term sustainability is supported by three pillars:
- Health and Safety;
- Environmental Management
- Socio-Economic Development.
Bushveld Minerals has developed a Community Stakeholder Engagement Strategy which is the blueprint for building relationships with our host communities and land owners in areas where we operate. To date, all the community and landowner stakeholders in Bushveld Vametco have been identified. Monthly stakeholder meetings are scheduled to ensure continuous engagement. Vametco plans to conduct a socio-economic baseline assessment to profile its host communities so as to understand their needs and work towards addressing them in partnership with the relevant authorities. Vametco is embarking on an EIA for its expansion project. The updated EIA will enable the operation to develop a comprehensive environmental management plan for the future. Bushveld Vametco plans to start the process of developing and implementing the ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System to align the environmental management of its operations with international standards.
1. Health And Safety
Vametco had zero fatalities in 2018 and achieved a safety milestone of 5, 375, 848 man-hours worked without recording a lost-time injury, the last lost-time injury was recorded in November 2013. We intend to work hard to maintain this record.
The Department of Mineral Resources’ Mine Health and Safety inspectors made no major findings against us in 2018 and all action plans were implemented.
Our guiding principle is zero tolerance to deviations from safety regulations, whether by our own employees or contractors. We aim to instil a work culture based on behavioural management that views safety and health as of paramount importance.
Training is directed at making sure our employees not only work responsibly for their own sakes, but to look out for their colleagues’ health and safety, too. Our safety drive entails visible leadership and behavioural change coaching, inspections and training programmes which are conducted on site by both management and employees.
We believe that measuring ourselves against industry-leading practices and implementing good safety and health systems and conditions will keep us in the forefront of health and safety in the industry. No occupational medical cases or claims were recorded in 2018. We conducted a health wellness programme for all contractors and employees, which included voluntary testing for HIV, high blood pressure, sugar diabetes and cholesterol.
2. Environmental Management
Bushveld Minerals’ environment stewardship is guided by the EMPs that it is required to develop before beginning any mining and processing activities. The EMPs identify and address environmental impacts that could occur during the exploration, mining and mine closure phases. Incorporated within the EMP are reports and plans to address water management, land management, waste management (non-hazardous and hazardous materials), air quality management, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Our objective is to align our activities with international standards, including those of the International Finance Corporation and ISO 14001:2015, which lays out guidelines and requirements for how an environmental management system should operate to achieve continual improvement. We are targeting ISO 14001 certification by the third quarter of 2020.
Annual environmental performance assessment audits are conducted by an external environmental specialist and by regulatory authorities to assess the level of compliance with the conditions of the EMP, the mine’s Environmental Authorisations and the Environmental Management Programme. Environmental legal compliance audits were also performed by an independent specialist. No major findings were reported from any of these audits and no environmental penalties were imposed by the regulatory authorities.
Vametco conducted internal and external IWUL audits in 2018.
We have an ongoing surface and groundwater monitoring programme. Sampling and analysis of various chemical constituents and groundwater level measurements are conducted on a monthly and quarterly basis, as required by the IWUL and South African National Standards drinking water quality standards, to ensure effective management of the water resources on site and in surrounding areas. We implement best practices for dirty and clean water management in the plant area.
Water quantity abstracted for production purposes was within the authorised quantities for consumption, with actual abstraction of 496,114 m3 /p.a. for production purposes, against the water use license limit of 950,000 m3 /p.a. One of the key elements of water management at Vametco is its recycling programme, which contributed 110,288 m3 /p.a.
In general, our waste management is centred around separation at source, recycling and reuse.
Vametco conducted internal and external audits for its Waste Management Licence in 2018. We will continue to evaluate and improve how we manage tailings at our operations and monitor our tailings storage facilities. Every year we conduct magnetite dump and slimes dam audits, with our objective being to identify and minimise or eliminate potential health, safety, environmental, social or business risks associated with Tailings Storage Facilities.
Air Quality And Environmental Dust Fallout
The Bojanala District Municipality has granted Vametco an Atmospheric Emission Licence and we are dedicated to ensuring we comply with it. This include monitoring our stacks emissions and implementing management plans if they exceed the designated limits.
Bushveld Minerals embarked on the project to install an off-gas scrubber system in the plant in order to reduce dust emission.
In 2018, the dust fallout rates recorded at the monitoring sites at the fence boundaries were below the non-residential area standard of 1 200mg/m2 per day. That means we comply with the South African National Dust Control Regulations, 2013.
Vametco conducts annual plant and animal assessments as part of the biodiversity impact assessment. This includes an Invader Species Eradication Programme, in which we employ people from the local community.
Mine Rehabilitation And Environmental Liabilities
A detailed environmental liability assessment has been conducted for Vametco. An appropriate financial provision for rehabilitation and closure is in place to cover the current and potential environmental impact of the operation, in line with National Environmental Management Act of 1998.
Concurrent rehabilitation is practiced where possible in order to minimize environmental impacts during operation and reduce the final environmental liability.
3. Socio-Economic Development
Bushveld Minerals’ vertically integrated approach to developing its projects ensures the total value proposition across a commodity’s value chain is captured and identifies areas where it can develop a competitive edge in the market.
This approach is evident in the development of our vanadium platform, which not only mines and processes vanadium but is further extending this downstream into the production of vanadium electrolyte and the deployment of vanadium electrolyte-based energy storage systems. Consequently, we are developing the deepest downstream vanadium beneficiation capacity in South Africa. Not only does this present compelling commercial opportunity, it also has immense benefits for South Africa with greater levels of capital investment, the creation of more jobs, greater revenues (which translates into foreign exchange earnings), domestic procurement opportunities and greater tax revenues.
In Madagascar the Imaloto project, an integrated coal mine and power generation plant, will see the development of power generation and a 500 km power transmission infrastructure in a region that is power-starved. The project will mobilise over US$200 million in foreign direct investment into the region, generate over US$1 billion in revenue for the government over its life and add thousands of local job opportunities during construction and operation of the mine, power station and transmission network.
Our activities in energy storage will play a key role in the development of a significant energy storage industry in South Africa. Bushveld has played a key role in the establishment of the South African Energy Storage Association which is playing a critical role in an emerging energy regulatory framework in South Africa, helping to shape it in ways that will promote South Africa as a leading player in the fulfilment of its green energy ambitions.
Community Stakeholder Engagement
Bushveld seeks to maintain channels of communication with its local communities through regular forums in which local community leadership participates with Bushveld management. To further embed this discipline, the appointment of a permanent dedicated community stakeholder executive will be completed in the second quarter of 2019.
Bushveld believes in building and maintaining meaningful partnerships within the communities where our operations are based. We intend to ensure that the local communities enjoy sustainable economic upliftment from our commercial activities. We see our socioeconomic role going beyond the creation of jobs and revenues for the country but also as an agent for transforming these communities.
In order to optimise this goal, Bushveld is to commission a Socio-Economic Baseline Assessment in 2019, the results of which will enable the Company to define the greatest needs in our surrounding communities and devise a community development strategy on how we, in partnership with other stakeholders, can play a catalytic role in the meaningful development of our community partners. This will inform our Community Engagement Strategy, in particular to target the following key areas:
- Enterprise development; and
- Health care.
In line with our commitment to strengthen relations with local communities, the Company has, since taking over Vametco, sought to settle all outstanding obligations to local land-owners, in terms of legislation. These obligations comprise of historical royalty payments under the old mining laws of South Africa and on-going surface lease payments.
In terms of the old mining laws in South Africa, Royalty payments obligations arose under the old mining laws in South Africa, which have since been replaced by the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act of 2002, which replaced the royalty regime with surface lease based compensation for land-owners on which mining and processing activities occur. Following this agreement, the Company paid a total of US$765 thousand towards one of two community land-owners during the year 2018. This was in addition to US$1.8 million paid during 2017. Efforts are underway to conclude agreements with the remaining land-co-owners. In our first year of controlling Vametco, we have managed to clear up approximately 90 % of five years’ worth of accumulated obligations due to communities. We believe this is reflective of our commitment to building meaningful relationships with the communities.
In addition, the Company has undertaken several community development initiatives, including renovations of schools and health care clinics.
Bushveld already has several initiatives underway, which will be refined following the results of the baseline assessment:
A. The Peo Matlafatso Trust – The Peo Matlafatso Trust (“PMT Trust”), a development trust to benefit the broader community in proximity to Vametco, was established by Bushveld to house a shareholding of up to 12.5 % in the Vametco operations, that was structured as part of the BBBEE shareholding, at the time of the purchase of Vametco. This significant shareholding in Vametco, which represents considerable value, will be leveraged to develop a platform for economic participation by the Vametco’s local communities. The appointment of appropriate Trustees and a professional execution team will be assembled to run the PMT Trust to achieve this goal.
B. Procurement, Enterprise Development And Supplier Development – In 2018 Vametco spent a total of US$51 million on procurement of goods and services. Of this, US$27 million or 52.5 % was spent on BBBEE compliant companies within South Africa. This amount included spend applied in local community enterprise development projects and programmes established during the financial year.Vametco maintains a database of empowerment businesses in the local communities to whom requests for quotations are sent out when the mine has need of goods or services. It ensures that a number of local companies are used to ensure the benefits are spread as widely as possible.Bushveld intends to go beyond the Mining Charter’s (associated with the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act) BBBEE procurement requirements to maximise the value of cost-effective and reliable procurement of capital goods, consumables and services from companies owned, managed and controlled by BBBEE’s within the communities affected by our operations. To achieve this the PMT Trust will be brought to bear to further develop procurement opportunities by Vametco from local community enterprises developed by the trust.
C. Human Resources Development
Five main initiatives are under way to provide skills to the local community as follows:
1. Learnerships: This three-year salaried programme is offered to employees (under section 18.1 of the Skills Development Act) and previously unemployed members of the local community (under section 18.2). The section 18.2 opportunities are advertised within the community to young people with a minimum N2 certificate or matric. In 2017 Vametco had 10 learnerships under the 18.2 programme. In 2018 a further 15 youths were accepted for learnerships. A further 15 have been taken on in 2019. Training is being provided to qualify fitters, electricians, boilermakers and diesel mechanics. The students attend the Engineering Skills Training Centre Institute of Excellence, an artisanal college in Randfontein, Gauteng Province, for three months of the year and work at Vametco for the remaining nine months.
2. Internships: This one year salaried programme is offered to people from local communities who have already acquired a qualification and are seeking for work experience. Vametco took on five interns in 2016, six in 2017 and 11 in 2018. This number exceeded the commitment set out in the social and labour plan. Bushveld has, at its head office, provided internships to persons with tertiary qualifications, including mining engineering, geology and environmental management.
3. Bursaries: In 2018 Vametco awarded 26 bursaries (some of which were continuations of funding to bursary holders from 2017), the majority of which were to females, compared with 23 (12 to females) in 2017. Qualifications being pursued varied from medicine to accounting, engineering, IT, geology and pharmacology.
4. Portable skills: Members of the local communities are taught to be dump truck operators, and offered basic welding, basic plumbing, basic bookkeeping and computer skills. In 2018, 100 members of the community attended these courses.
5. Adult Basic Education and Training: Subject to places being available, Vametco has opened up its ABET courses to community members, free of charge.
6. Other community initiatives: As part of poverty alleviation, Vametco has paid unemployed members of the four wards around the mines for useful services like cleaning, graveyard maintenance, fixing potholes and schooling assistance. The company made general donations and also sponsored community sports events.
Empowerment Of Employees
Employees are important stakeholders in Bushveld achieving its operational goals. The following initiatives are being pursued to enhance employee participation and morale:
Employee Share Ownership Participation
Vametco is negotiating an ESOP with its employees which is aimed at closely aligning the interests of Vametco’s workforce to its operational targets and meeting the requirements of the Mining Charter. The ESOP will involve the issuance of new BVH shares to a trust. Further updates and progress on the ESOP will be provided as appropriate.
Employee Financial Wellness
Bushveld Minerals has developed an Employees Financial Wellness Programme to assist in improving the financial well-being of employees. A number of engagements with staff have been undertaken, where several common themes were identified:
- The average number of dependents per staff member is high, which is not uncommon in an area with high unemployment;
- The extent of financial stress amongst employees is high; – Indebtedness begins through formal credit suppliers; and
- Increased indebtedness progressively reduces take-home pay, rendering it inadequate to cover monthly expenses. This forces individuals to resort to unregistered credit providers.
The approach to address these problems includes:
- Ensuring unions are involved and obtain their buy-in and cooperation;
- Undertake training to educate staff in the perils of high levels of indebtedness;
- Providing debt counselling and debt restructuring solutions; and
- Encouraging employees to use the recommended financial services provider to consolidate and reschedule debt, rather than informal unregistered credit providers.
To this end Vametco has contracted a financial services provider which specialises in personal financial planning, debt consolidation, debt counselling and provision of unsecured loans.