Achieving and maintaining a social licence to operate is a key imperative for mining companies all over the world. Companies commit to engagement and projects in line with their Social and Labour Plans. And while it is impossible for mining companies to meet all expectations, they do make significant contributions to host and labour sending communities, directly and indirectly.
Mining offers not only employment but also supports the respective provincial economies. In the communities where mining firms operate, they have built schools, clinics, and other social infrastructure such as roads and housing for employees, thus improving the quality of life of community members. They have also directly and indirectly supported recreational activities.
In 2013 South African mining companies spent approximately R2.7 billion in 2013 on corporate social responsibility initiatives. Within the Northern Cape, 26 mining companies spent about R500 million in 2015 alone on various socio-economic development initiatives. This spending has not abated and every year more and more funds are invested in local economic development, education, health and other community projects.
Nevertheless, protest action has increased exponentially, especially between 2011 and 2016, and reports show that 80% of these protests turn violent 1. For example, in April 2016 more than 500 protestors barricaded the R31 road in Kuruman, demanding employment from local mines. 2
Against this background, mining companies recognise the importance of improving their development programmes and the need to collaborate to increase the efficacy of their efforts in order to close the gap between their social and community spend, and the positive, concrete and tangible benefits that this investment brings to employees and the host communities where these companies operate.
1 The Intelligence Bulletin
2 The New Age