Progress Report: Five Exciting ESG Milestones in 2021
Every responsible miner needs to understand the impact their operations can have on the environment and community relations, and develop an appropriate environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework to improve conditions and counter any negative effects that may arise.
Pan African Resources is dedicated to responsible and sustainable environmental stewardship and socio-economic development in the areas we operate, focusing on sustainable, high-margin and safe gold production while ensuring our host communities benefit from the resources our mines offer.
In continuing our long-term journey towards a progressive, ambitious ESG strategy, 2021 is already shaping up to be another important year of milestones for Pan African.
From exciting, disruptive shifts in our energy portfolio to our ongoing delivery of community service facilities such as schools and clinics, we make considerable progress in meeting a number of our core ESG goals this year, including:
- eradicating poverty where we operate
- promoting sustainable production and consumption
- implementing affordable, sustainable and modern energy
- improving healthcare and reducing illiteracy, resulting in an improved talent pool for Pan African’s operational needs
- protect, restore and promote sustainable use of ecosystems, improve land use and halt land degradation and biodiversity loss
In partnerships with NGOs, government, specialist farmers and small local businesses, high-quality, high-reach community projects have been delivered. They have been reinforced by innovative social investments, such as agri-businesses and land rehabilitation projects, which have started to create local employment and business development opportunities, and reduced our environmental footprint.
These efforts are part of an overall commitment exceeding R100 million to community and ESG projects by Pan African Resources over the next five years.
Here are some of our ESG milestones happening in 2021:
Cultivating Blueberries to provide sustainable employment
With its favourable climate and reputation for producing high-quality fruit, South Africa’s blueberry industry is growing. Exports increased to 12,282 tons last year – up more than 50% from 2018/19 – and further growth is predicted, with new markets being developed, such as the Far East.
Pan African Resources is leveraging the demand for this hot commodity to tackle high levels of unemployment in Barberton with our very own blueberry farm. By converting 45 hectares of fallow mining land into productive farming land, the project will provide almost 800 jobs once complete. Potential downstream opportunities, such as packaging facilities and transport logistics, are also being explored.
Phase 1, in which 114 000 blueberry bushes will be planted on 15 hectares under tunnel at a cost of R40 million, was successfully commissioned in January 2021, with the first sizable harvest planned for May next year.
Generating clean energy at Evander
When complete, the R140 million 10MW Evander solar photovoltaic (PV) plant will provide approximately 30% of the power requirements of the Elikhulu Tailings Retreatment Plant during daylight.
This will result in expected annual CO2 savings of over 26 000 tonnes, helping to substantially reduce Pan African’s carbon footprint. At the same time, this renewable energy source will improve the operation’s energy reliability by reducing dependency on the national grid, while also reducing exposure to above-inflation annual power cost increases. These cost savings will result in a calculated payback of this investment in less than 5 years, and less if the electricity tariffs increase at anticipated higher rates. Plans are under consideration to extend the PV plant by a further 10MW in readiness to supply Pan African’s adjacent Egoli Project, which will be South Africa’s newest underground gold mine.
The Evander solar plant is on track to begin producing power during the third quarter of 2021. A feasibility study is nearing completion for a similar plant at Barberton Mines, where a suitable site has now been selected.
Environmental conservation and land rehabilitation
Land and water rehabilitation, and the protection of biodiversity remain ongoing activities for Pan African Resources.
The closure of old shafts and rehabilitation of infrastructure at Evander Mines is now complete, and local community SMMEs are contracted to continue with the above-ground restoration, replanting natural flora, demolishing old office buildings and removing waste material.
Almost 25 km2 of land around Evander Mines has now been rehabilitated, which also reduces the risks from illegal mining. Nearby, the rehabilitation of ground where the tailings have been retreated at Elikhulu will free up land for other uses, including agriculture and community housing.
Handover of Cathyville Clinic, Barberton
In May 2021, Pan African will hand over a new, state of the art eight-hour day clinic and community health centre at Cathyville, Emjindini Township, to the Mpumalanga Department of Health. It is part of our drive to improve access to healthcare in the community, and was constructed at a total cost of some R15.1 million. The facility is fully equipped and was constructed using the services of local construction companies and employing members from the local communities.
Opening of Kaapvallei Primary School, Sheba Siding, Emjindini
Construction of Kaapvallei Primary School in Emjindini has now been commissioned and scheduled for completion in late 2021. This 375-learner school includes eight classrooms for grade R to grade 9, fencing and ablution, multimedia block, kitchen, dining hall and administration block. Learners will be relocated from their current classrooms, located at an old mining hostel to this new facility which is located closer to the community. The school will be built by Pan African at a total cost estimated at R8.7 million.
Nearby, Pan African will also revamp the Ngwane Primary School, one of the oldest public schools in Barberton and built ca.1946. The company will also build additional classrooms, ablution blocks, kitchen and dining hall, assembly shelter, and upgrade the fence and administration block at a cost estimated at R8 million. The school will benefit 831 learners and provide jobs for 25 educators.
High quality education infrastructure results in an increased number of learners wanting to attend school, meaning reduced illiteracy levels and an extended talent pool from which the mines could eventually source their operational needs.
ESG is a cornerstone of Pan African’s strategy as we strive to safely extract gold from mineral deposits in a manner that creates sustainable value for all our stakeholders.
By delivering on our long-term commitments, our ESG principles will continue to position our mines to play positive economic, environmental and social roles in the communities where they are based.
Our journey to set the standard of sustainable mining continues. We are mining for a future!
What does ESG mean?
ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. They are non-financial aspects that investors consider when identifying risk and growth opportunities of potential investments, including sustainable, mission-related and responsible investing.
What’s the difference between ESG and CSR?
While CSR describes how a company’s social and environmental responsibilities and contributions are integrated into business operations, corporate ESG is the criteria used to measure the impact of these activities. CSR defines strategy, while ESG is used to evaluate actual corporate behaviour and improve strategic direction.
What is ESG investing?
Corporate ESG principles are becoming a more important area of consideration for investors, who are increasingly interested in making sure their investments align with the values they hold towards the environment, society and good governance practices.