De Beers Group’s Venetia mine in South Africa has hosted a series of three fairs to strengthen links with local mining communities.
Hundreds of people gathered at the three venues - Blouberg (Eldorado Stadium), Alldays (Alldays Stadium) and Musina (Madimbo Stadium) – to meet representatives from De Beers, including Venetia mine General Manager Gerrie Nortje, and from major contracting partners.
They also had the opportunity to visit exhibition stalls showcasing various programmes, initiatives, jobs and training opportunities.
People from the mining communities filled the exhibition stalls. Gerrie Nortje said he was happy with the turnout, adding: “We are passionate about our communities and we are happy to have had the opportunity to engage with them directly to share with them the current and future opportunities from the mine and with our contracting partners. We fully appreciate our role in making a lasting and positive contribution to the communities in which we operate.”
There were also displays of traditional dancing at the fairs in mid-March, as people enjoyed the festive fun.
Health and fitness were an exhibition theme, and nurses from the Venetia mine clinic teamed up with the Limpopo Health Department to offer screenings for TB, high blood pressure, diabetes and HIV/AIDs.
Young people turned up too, looking cool. One Alldays resident Shiela Mosala brought her daughters to the fair to inspire them to dream big and learn more about the opportunities on offer at De Beers. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our young children, who still have time to study and dream big,” she said. “I brought my daughters along so that they can get inspired by the many opportunities on offer here today. Hopefully, they will be motivated to get up and work hard for the future.”
The fairs were designed to highlight opportunities in key socio-economic development areas such as local procurement, employment and community skills, as well as corporate social investment.
Since January 2018, Venetia mine has awarded 14 three-year contracts of over R90 million to local suppliers within its labour-sending areas. In the same period, the mine has spent R15 million on its existing local suppliers. There are currently 20 local suppliers participating in the mine’s supplier development programme.
Through the De Beers Zimele initiative, Venetia mine supports small, medium, and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) by helping them to access low interest loan funding and free mentorship. Since its inception in 2011, De Beers Zimele has funded 59 SMMEs and created 812 jobs in Limpopo.
Barloworld Equipment was one of the contractors who joined De Beers at the fair. Others included Murray and Roberts Cementation, and Basil Read.
With the US$2 billion Venetia Underground Project (VUP) expected to extend the Life of Mine to 2045, Venetia mine is set to leave a lasting legacy for communities of Musina and Blouberg. Through the VUP, the mine will support 8,000 jobs directly and a further 5,000 through the supply chain, which will benefit both the Musina and South African economy.
Gerrie added: “Employing and developing the skills and talents of local people are among the most important ways we contribute to the long-term development of our communities – and we hope that we will continue doing that through the VUP.”
To boost engagement with communities, Venetia mine is intending to establish a Community Development Forum in the Blouberg and Musina communities with representation from all the villages and towns from the mine’s labour-sending areas, local councils and municipalities, as well as traditional leaders.
The Community Development Forum aims to prioritise the needs of the communities; deal with emerging issues at an early stage; share experiences, document progress, and note improvements; ensure a greater flow of information; and pursue viable partnerships for sustainable development.
“We believe that such a forum will provide a strong mechanism to explore collaboration, drive integration and build understanding among all our stakeholders,” Gerrie said.