series of imbizos (community meetings) hosted by Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) to mark the start of the Zulti South project were welcomed by RBM’s host communities – Dube, Mkhwanazi, Mbonambi and Sokhulu.
Packed to capacity, the five imbizos were attended by over 7 500 community members comprising unemployed, skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled youth; elderly; residents and services providers.
The meetings served as information sharing sessions on matters related to procurement, community participation and hiring that will accelerate and deliver transformation and empowerment to businesses in the district.
They follow the signing of a landmark agreement between RBM and its host communities on 30 August 2019 to secure local business participation in the Zulti South project. This R6.5bn project will underpin RBM’s supply of zircon and ilmenite and extend the life of the mine, ensuring the business continues to make a major contribution to the community for years to come.
Werner Duvenhage, Managing Director, Richards Bay Minerals, said: “The imbizos are part of our commitment to work together with our community, suppliers and stakeholders to help create sustainable development and transformation in the mining sector. We pride ourselves in making a positive impact on wider communities through strategic partnerships and in collaboration with host communities to ensure inclusivity.
“We believe the Procurement Principles Agreement recently agreed between RBM and our communities will make Zulti South a truly pioneering project in its approach and help accelerate economic transformation and maximize impact in the communities.”
Addressing attendees at an imbizo in Mkhwanazi recently, Inkosi Mkhwanazi said: “It was important to negotiate an agreement that will make a difference in the lives of people and change it for the better.
“This local procurement agreement is broad-based and will benefit the whole community through the consortium which caters for women, people with disabilities, youth and the business forum. I challenge all of you present to ensure this consortium works and urge the committees that will be established to be reliable and trustworthy to the people they serve.”
Mkhwanazi added that the skills that will be acquired from the project should empower people to apply for jobs elsewhere after the construction phase has ended. Contractors in attendance said local community participation would augur well for the economy.
Matteo Mattioda, Contract Manager at Leomat Construction, said: “We are pleased to participate in the project and help ensure that the Contract Participation Goals of host communities are achieved. As a locally based company operating in the Richards Bay area for 39 years, we are grateful for the work that is forthcoming and more so that it will be benefiting communities that we are very much a part of.”
Leomat will build two pump stations along the pipeline which will provide water for mining operations.
Mario Beccaro, Director at Scribante Africa, said: “We are committed to ensuring communities have access to participation in projects and will provide the necessary guidance, mentorship and skills transfer to empower local communities financially and otherwise. The work opportunities made available locally means people don’t have to travel long distances and part with their families to earn a living.”
Scribante is involved in the preparation of platforms to build a process plant, and has over the years, built roads in partnership with host communities.
Ray Govender, Project Director at WBHO Construction, responsible for the construction of a 42km corridor pipeline, said: “We fully support the initiative which we feel is innovative and different to what has been used in the industry. If we all pull together and do right, we can certainly change the way we work with communities in the future. The mechanisms that have been put in place for this project will tangibly benefit communities and improve social harmony between communities and corporates working with communities.”