Women in mining

Harnessing the power within

Khanyisile Kweyama (2).jpg

The topic of empowering women is close to my heart and continues to be a strident theme.  My roles, as executive director of Anglo American and vice-president of the Chamber of Mines, harnessed my understanding and participation in the broader South African mining industry and economic development landscape following the devastating platinum strike.

I’m going to give you a sweeping overview of the impact of the strike on our socio-economic environment and then I’ll focus on some interventions that have been rolled out to address the most urgent needs of the affected communities.

As a direct result of the strike, mining production output slumped by 24.7%, the biggest quarterly drops since the second quarter of 1967. The strike curtailed output in the manufacturing sector, which makes up about 15% of the economy locally and about 40% of the global platinum production, which is used for catalytic converters in vehicles, mobile phone hardware and is a key source of hard currency for South Africa.

These impacts are significant, especially when you consider that mining and manufacturing account for almost a fifth of South Africa’s economy. South Africa's economy shrank by 0.6% in the first quarter of this year. This setback has had serious consequences for our socio-economic development, and will take a long time for us to recover from.

In addition, the strike also harmed the mining sector’s sustainability, has ravaged local economies, deterred investors and generally impaired South Africa’s reputational currency in the eyes of the rest of the world. The issue of indebtedness came alarmingly to the fore after the tragedy of Marikana, and during recent platinum industry wage negotiations. This problem is exacerbated by irresponsible lenders and debt collectors.

Now that operations are approaching a steady state, it’s comforting to know that our historic and ongoing community development programmes are helping affected communities recover from and even advance their stressed local economies.

Being a good neighbour is good business, but it requires us to draw on our skills and resources at local, national and international levels to support the sustainable development outcomes and capacities of host communities. At local level, this means rolling out initiatives such as helping small businesses to develop through training, social investment and capacity building.

Partnerships and collaboration underpin all these activities. We believe in the power of partnering with local business, civil society bodies, NGOs, CBOs, research organisations and governments to improve the socio-economic environment and build a strong South Africa. This way, we’re able to deliver more effective solutions and create greater shared value.

I congratulate Women in Mining South Africa for your excellent achievements over the past year and look forward to hearing more in the years to come.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Khanyisile Kweyama



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This edition

Issue 42