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Mining Company – Community Engagement Round Table (2014)

Anglo American’s Bertus Bierman (Senior Manager – Infrastructure, Anglo Platinum) made the observation to Professor JP Franzidis, then MtM Director, that it would be useful to understand the issues that the mining industry should consider if it were to engage with the community five years before a mine started. This observation was the impetus behind the Mining Company-Community Engagement: University of Cape Town-Industry Round Table which was held on 2 September 2014. The round table was attended by 23 people, predominantly UCT academics from different faculties and (a few invited) students, but also including representatives from mining companies, the health sector and the Royal Bafokeng. The discussions were mediated by Professor Phil Kirsch of the Sustainable Minerals Institute of the University of Queensland, Australia.

Eleven themes emerged from an analysis of the roundtable discussions:

  • The importance of stakeholder engagement/negotiation
  • The impacts of mining
  • The negative image of the mining industry
  • The need to encourage diversified economies around mining operations to reduce over-reliance on mining
  • The economic liability of mine rehabilitation
  • The implications of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act
  • The need for a regional planning approach to more effectively manage mining impacts
  • Capacity building/employment – the need to upskill community members so they can gain employment in mining operations
  • Mining company business imperatives – the impact on company promises and communication
  • The need for a long-term approach to stakeholder engagement
  • Issues stemming from power relations

A number of research questions/topics were developed from the discussions, including:

  • What strategies and techniques are appropriate for determining the representative voice(s) for mining communities and corporations?
  • Does raw capitalism preclude mining from true sustainable relationships?
  • What factors enable near-mining communities to be successful beyond the life of a mine, based on historical evidence of community trajectories?

The round table received high ratings in an evaluation questionnaire distributed to the attendees. A second meeting was planned for Johannesburg in 2015, but due to movements in personnel, follow-up has happened largely through personal contacts. The round table was particularly useful for developing/cementing relationships and establishing new linkages.