Middleburg is popularly known as the home of the stainless steel mainly because it is the highest producer and supplier of stainless steel globally and Columbus Stainless Steel is the core, established in 1957. Columbus as a Joint Venture with Acerinox Steel, a stainless Steel Producer in Spain. Columbus produces about 450 000 Tons per Annum, which make it the highest producer, globally. On the other hand Columbus is also the highest polluter in the area.
The Stainless Steel Production is a business that uses high temperatures and lots of chemicals such as hydrofluoric Acid, Sulphiric Acid Nitric Acid. Columbus uses about 11 times the electricity used by the entire Middleburg town. In the Hazardous pollutants released to the air, water and unto the land CR6 ( Chrome6) Nox( Nitrogen Oxide)Sox ( Sulphur Dioxide) are some of the most common pollutants in the area.
Residents around Columbus are exposed to different type of illness and they suffer because of stainless Steel Production. Rockdale, Nazaret, Hlalamnandi and Minglalia are areas that are clearly visible a kilometre away from Columbus. All kinds of fumes are clearly visible even around the area people suffer from Tuberculosis, Asthma, Sinus, Heart disease and headaches far worse than those who manage and own Columbus Steel. We have never seen a mine manager living in the same areas as us, drinking as same water as we do and breathing the same air, inhaling those dirty fumes likes. They are staying away from pollution yet they benefit more than we do.
Columbus does not help the community, their corporate social responsibility is none exstent and it done not benefit the people in Middleburg but who benefits?
We have more questions than answers, why so many people in the community have to suffers, we were promised jobs, growth but its only few people who are fit to work the mine benefit. The mines before they hire us we have do a medical test, most people failed the because they grow up eating an breathing pollution from the same mines who doesn’t want to employ local people because they are medical unfit. Who do we go to? Can our government protest us, do they own shares in the mine? Oh, we don’t know but nothing has been said to mines yet, but we know our government will say something, they will ask for shares then it will be business as usual.