As the Anglo American Group marks a century of operating in South Africa, the last five years have arguably been the most challenging for the platinum mining sector, therefore affecting its platinum business unit, Anglo American Platinum. Marked by the longest labour strike in history at the start of 2014 and a 25% reduction in commodity prices, due to unrealised growth in the automotive industry, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) has had to act swiftly to reassure stakeholders and restructure the business for future resilience.
In an effort to combat high rates of crime which ravaged communities at night, Amplats worked in close collaboration with stakeholders such as the local community policing forums, to prioritise communal lighting and village electrification. Rustenburg communities where Amplats previously operated were the first to benefit from high-mast lighting. After numerous efforts to connect the lights to the energy grid, the company began looking at alternative energy sources.
Solar high-mast lights were found to be three times more affordable than standard electrical fittings. The previous cost of R35 million to electrify one village could now be undertaken at a cost of R5 million. The project was not only an opportunity to link these remote communities to the green economy, but to also create jobs for unemployed youth who have since been trained on maintenance to ensure that the programme remains sustainable.
The electrification programme that started in June 2016 has since reached eight communities where Amplats operates.
As a result of the deep consultation undertaken with the communities on the technology and rollout, communities have safeguarded the solar panels in every village, confirming that the engagement was effective and that the residents have taken real ownership of this vital infrastructure. While data is still to be collected on whether incidents of crime have decreased, the overwhelming feedback from communities is that they feel safe and that their quality of life has improved.
Source details: Trialogue Business in Society Handbook 2017