Im­plats strate­gises in chal­leng­ing times

Finweek English Edition - - UNIT TRUSTS -

CHIEF EX­EC­U­TIVE OF­FI­CER of Im­pala Plat­inum David Brown, speak­ing at GIBS, says the min­ing com­pany with five min­ing op­er­a­tions lo­cated on two prime plat­inum de­posits, the Bushveld com­plex in South Africa and the Great Dyke in Zim­babwe, is op­er­at­ing in a much tougher en­vi­ron­ment than it was in the past.

How­ever, the com­pany’s vi­sion is still to be the “best plat­inum pro­duc­ing com­pany that pro­duces the high­est share­holder re­turns com­pared to our peers” and it is im­ple­ment­ing nu­mer­ous strate­gies to de­liver this vi­sion.

In the area of safety, Im­plats is in­volv­ing its man­age­ment to change the safety cul­ture in the or­gan­i­sa­tion to a broader ap­proach that en­com­passes safety in all as­pects of its em­ploy­ees’ lives.

The com­pany is par­tic­u­larly ad­dress­ing road safety and al­co­hol abuse by en­forc­ing five “plat­inum rules” of road be­hav­iour and by ran­domly test­ing at least 10% of its work­force for al­co­hol abuse daily, so peo­ple are not a dan­ger to them­selves and their col­leagues.

In­ter­est­ingly it mon­i­tors peo­ple’s road be­hav­iour as they travel to the work­place and not once they ar­rive, as the com­pany is try­ing to get peo­ple to be­have dif­fer­ently even be­fore they get to work.

In or­der to pre­vent the rep­e­ti­tion of safety in­ci­dents, the com­pany has in­creased the fre­quency and in­ten­sity of its be­havioural­based train­ing.

Brown said that al­though there are tech­ni­cal so­lu­tions avail­able to make the work­ing en­vi­ron­ment safer, “tech­ni­cal so­lu­tions are not the be all and end all, the most im­por­tant thing is man­ag­ing the risk be­hav­iour of all em­ploy­ees”.

On the health front, Im­plats is see­ing higher ab­sen­teeism from its em­ploy­ees as the HIV/Aids pan­demic, which af­fects a large num­ber of mine work­ers, is ma­tur­ing. Brown said that in­fec­tion rates have not come down as hoped and, there­fore, the com­pany will con­tinue to run its preven­tion pro­grammes.

He added that Im­plats’ treat­ment of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis has been very suc­cess­ful, but the com­pany ex­pected to see the in­ci­dence of the ill­ness rise as the HIV/Aids virus con­tin­ues to ma­ture.

In terms of the com­pany’s im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment, Im­plats has, amongst other things, launched a ma­jor drive to re­duce its fresh­wa­ter con­sump­tion and to in­crease its use of re­cy­cled wa­ter, since the scarcity of wa­ter will be­come more of a press­ing is­sue in fu­ture.

An­other chal­lenge fac­ing the in­dus­try is the acute skills short­age. This gap in the mar­ket has led Im­plats to en­hance both the work en­vi­ron­ment and liv­ing con­di­tions of its em­ploy­ees through a num­ber of ini­tia­tives. It also fo­cuses on of­fer­ing em­ploy­ees ad­vance­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in the com­pany and recog­nis­ing good qual­ity per­form­ers. Pur­su­ing growth Im­plats’ strat­egy in the area of growth is to firstly pur­sue growth through ex­plo­ration. The com­pany plans to reach the pro­duc­tion of over 2 mil­lion ounces of plat­inum by the mid­dle of the decade and key to this is the ex­pan­sion of its Zim­bab­wean re­source base.

Brown com­mented that ex­plo­ration for plat­inum group met­als (PGMs) was “a bit like look­ing for a black cat in the dark” as the com­pany has spent con­sid­er­able time and re­sources to look for PGMs around the world but has not found any.

“ There­fore the re­sources that we do have are very valu­able,” he said.

Or­ganic growth is the sec­ond path the com­pany will take to pur­sue its growth ob­jec­tive. Fur­ther­more, merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions do add value to a com­pany, but there are not many propo­si­tions avail­able.

Brown added the com­pany also plans to be­come a sig­nif­i­cant player in the re­cy­cling mar­ket in the fu­ture.

“ There are great drives in the Euro­pean Union to in­crease re­cy­cling ma­te­rial and this is some­thing that we do need to stay rel­e­vant with.”

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