‘Sus­pended mine must come clean’

Bokoni urged to treat re­trenched work­ers fairly

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Di­neo Faku

THE BENCH Marks Foun­da­tion has thrown down the gaunt­let to Bokoni Plat­inum in Lim­popo, which is re­trench­ing 2 651 em­ploy­ees, to give de­tails of its plans to moth­ball shafts as it re­it­er­ated its call for min­ing houses to pay re­trenched em­ploy­ees so­cial grants.

Bench Marks, the faith­based non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion that mon­i­tors cor­po­rate per­for­mance, said on Fri­day that com­mu­ni­ties feared that the mine would use this “sus­pen­sion” as a way of avoid­ing its re­quire­ment to re­ha­bil­i­tate the land.

It was re­spond­ing to news that Bokoni had been placed in a two-year pe­riod of care and main­te­nance to re­gain its fi­nan­cial strength.

Bench Marks ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, John Capel, said there were many unan­swered ques­tions around Bokoni.

“Once a mine’s op­er­a­tion is sus­pended, what onus is on it to con­tinue op­er­a­tions once the sus­pen­sion pe­riod has passed? How can we be sure that the same work­ers will be em­ployed? How will in­fra­struc­ture such as bore­holes be main­tained in good work­ing or­der? What about the state of the roads that are used to take chil­dren to school, for ex­am­ple?”

Around 20 000 job losses are loom­ing in the min­ing in­dus­try as Bokoni, a joint ven­ture be­tween At­latsa Re­sources and An­glo Amer­i­can Plat­inum, the world’s big­gest plat­inum pro­ducer, af­fect jobs.

An­gloGold Ashanti, the world’s third big­gest gold pro­ducer, said it would cut 8 500 jobs, while Sibanye Gold said 7 400 jobs ex­clud­ing con­trac­tors were on the line amid the plan to place loss-mak­ing shafts on care and main­te­nance.

Capel also said that min­ing com­pa­nies should es­tab­lish a sys­tem of so­cial grants to sup­port the minework­ers they were re­trench­ing.

He said that re­spon­si­bil­ity to work­ers and com­mu­ni­ties did not end when a mine sus­pended its op­er­a­tions, and that the onus was on min­ing com­pa­nies to en­sure sus­tain­able life for af­fected com­mu­ni­ties.

“Com­mu­ni­ties such as Mon­ametse, Se­fateng, Mosotse and other nearby vil­lages are go­ing to be deeply af­fected by Bokoni’s de­ci­sion,” he said.

“The mine has failed to help peo­ple in these vil­lages gen­er­ate a sus­tain­able in­come. Most of these vil­lagers’ plough­ing fields have been de­nuded by min­ing op­er­a­tions and there are still a lot of peo­ple liv­ing in ab­ject poverty,” he said.

Capel said one of the big­gest fears of com­mu­ni­ties was that the mine would use this “sus­pen­sion” as a way of avoid­ing its re­quire­ment to re­ha­bil­i­tate the land.

The Cham­ber of Mines had pre­vi­ously said com­pa­nies con­trib­uted to a range of so­cial ben­e­fits for em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing through their reg­u­lar unem­ploy­ment in­sur­ance pay­ments and re­tire­ment fund con­tri­bu­tions.

“Any ad­di­tional costs that may be re­quired to fund any ad­di­tional so­cial grants, would have an im­pact on the sus­tain­abil­ity of all mines. These are is­sues that are in fact con­sid­ered in al­most ev­ery set of wage ne­go­ti­a­tions,” it said.

South Africa has 17 mil­lion so­cial grant ben­e­fi­cia­ries who rely on the So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency.

‘The mem­bers of three com­mu­ni­ties and other nearby vil­lages will be deeply af­fected by Bokoni’s de­ci­sion.’

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