Failed Mine Community Projects.

by Chris Molebatsi and Alex Salang

Mining Companies when they apply for rights  mining rights, make a lot of promises.. They agree to set up community projects to assist people in their socio economic development. They start projects but they don’t give these projects full support and many of them collapse .

Lonmin has been operating for more then 20 years  but their CSR has achieved very little in addressing greater social impact compared to the wealth they accumulates over these years of their operations. All of the projects initiated by the company for the community have collapsed and dismally failed. The objective of local economic development has failed. The communities need to be prepared themselves for the harsh realities of times beyond mining.

Aquarius has been here for years but has done no development  for the communities so far. Failures of the projects earmarked for the community is caused by the attitude of the companies to do for rather than with the community. This entrenches the mine management style alian to the communities and impose mine manager over the community project.

In Marikana we have two projects that was started and then collapsed in Lapologang by Aquarius Mines and the Gilli Lonmin Kibbutza farming project by Lonmin.

Lapologang 

Lapologang is a small township established by Aquarius when they moved people of the farms they lived in the Spruitveld area in 2002 to make way for a mine.Aquarius set up a gardening project which people could grow vegetables for sale and in this way make a living. They set aside land where each family was given a plot of ground to garden. They provided water. But people abandoned these gardens as they were not able to sell their crops.A poultry project was also set up. People where assisted to keep chicken for sale. The people found that they could not sell their chicken and that they were spending more money feeding the chicken.A resident from the community said that these projects failed because firstly they were not the ideas of the people but by the mine and that when they were set up the market side was not thought about. The mine simply set up the project to show that they were doing something according to the social labour plan. The mine was not serious about seeing the project through as we all know that setting up a small business of any kind is not easy and requires years of work not six months.The mine does not work with the community, they work with a few individuals that they mine chooses. These individuals only represent themselves and their personal interests.The resident said that when they approach the mine about this, the mine officials say that they are over with the project, they did their share and now it’s left to the community.There is a high rate of unemployment in Lapologang. In past where the people lived in Sterkwater, they lived on the farm and they had jobs. After relocation over 10km away, there is large scale unemployment about 40%. Some time when there is contract on the mine everybody gets jobs. Then suddenly the contract ends for whatever reason then they are left unemployed again. They have no security.

 Gilli Lonmin Kibbutza Farming Project.                                            

In 2005 Lonmin Development Trust called a meeting with the community and told those who attended about their plans to set up a “hydroponic” agricultural project. They told us that they where spending R32million rand on the project that they where doing this with business company Gili Kubbutza SA who would own 26% of the shares in the company. Lonmin will hold the remaining shares. They told us that the aim of the project was to create jobs for local people. At its start the project employed 32 workers.The project appeared to be going well until we heard stories that there was conflict with the company and somebody had embezzled money.There was a promise that the company after two years would be transferred to the community. This did not happen.Then in 2007 the company was closed down. Another company “Bambanani” took over in 2008 but they did not last long. They stopped paying the workers wages. In 2009 workers were selling the remaining vegetables to survive. The farm was then abandoned.

The problem in both these stories Lapologang Aquarius gardening project and the Lonmin Farming Project is that the mines do not involve the communities as a whole actively when they set anything up. They rather worker with a few individuals and then tell the community what they are doing. These individuals on the basis that they will play the mines game and not challenge them in anyway. The aim of these individuals is to promote their own personal interests.