Our general approach towards all our suppliers is that we act responsibly and expect the same from our partners. Based on a risk evaluation of our suppliers, we conduct sustainability risk assessments by means of independent auditors or service providers. Whenever we become aware of violations, we urge our suppliers to address and end these. Where indicated, we support our partners, civil society, or cross-industry initiatives to commonly address challenges. In other cases, we explore business alternatives and reserve the right to terminate business relations.
The Marikana Incident
In August 2012, there was a strike at Lonmin platinum operations in Marikana, South Africa. An escalation of tensions culminated in violent confrontations between mine workers and armed South African policemen. 44 people died over the course of one week.
After having intensively assessed the causes of the incident on their side, Lonmin changed their leadership team, implemented lessons learned and started activities to get to the roots of the problem. Lonmin set up a fund to support the families and children of the deceased mine workers, whose schooling was from then on taken care of by Lonmin.
In 2019, Lonmin was acquired by Sibanye-Stillwater – a group with no prior affiliation with Lonmin. As the new owner, Sibanye-Stillwater immediately addressed the legacy of Marikana and assessed ways to respond, not only to victims’ families’ situations but also to those of the Marikana communities more broadly.
Merger with Sibanye-Stillwater in 2019
The Sibanye-Stillwater-Lonmin merger was completed in 2019. With the merger, Sibanye-Stillwater had become one of the world’s leading producers of platinum group metals (PGM).
Since 2018, BASF has been participating in an exchange on sustainability topics with Sibanye-Stillwater. In 2019, Sibanye-Stillwater and BASF agreed to cooperate with respect to their stakeholder dialogs and foster collaboration between stakeholders for the common good. Both participated in the 2019 and 2020 “Courageous Conversations Dialogue”, invited by the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town to exchange on challenges and success factors of community projects.
Unlike early announcements to retrench approximately 12,500 jobs, no more than 1,142 job losses occurred due to restructuring at Marikana operations (status January 2020). Sibanye-Stillwater adopted measures to reduce the number of job losses through transfer and voluntary compensation schemes and retirements. Employees affected by retrenchment are offered the opportunity to acquire new skills to secure their livelihoods.
Sibanye-Stillwater takes an approach that focuses on creating local development and business opportunities, including activities beyond mine operations.
eTfS Audit and Improvement Process
With the takeover in 2019, Sibanye-Stillwater agreed to follow up on the eTfS (enhanced Together for Sustainability) audit process and related open items including the improvement of stakeholder engagement and the pending approval of the proposed Social and Labor Plan 2019-2023. Sibanye-Stillwater agreed to undergo a full audit in January 2020.
BASF participated as an observer in the audit. Sibanye-Stillwater addressed all 233 audit questions. There were no “critical findings”, four “major findings”, and 29 “minor findings.” All have been addressed through a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) with recommendations and timelines for completion per topic. In general, the auditors observed that Sibanye-Stillwater has sound management systems in accordance with good international industry practice in place, especially concerning health and safety. Sibanye-Stillwater immediately addressed all major observations. Most were closed by the end of 2020 except for those that entail longer term projects such as the construction of a containment dam or a study to analyze sources of heavy metal input. Sibanye-Stillwater and BASF exchange on the progress of the implementation of the CAP on a quarterly basis. All scheduled actions are either "closed" or "ongoing". There is currently no delay in the implementation of the CAP (as of February 2021).
In terms of social management, the audit team acknowledged Sibanye-Stillwater's significant efforts since the takeover from Lonmin. Sibanye-Stillwater reviewed all previous Lonmin Social and Labor Plan (SLP) projects and engaged with the local government and the community engagement forum, which comprises representatives of stakeholders that were involved in the development of the SLP with Lonmin. The audit team recommended that social projects should be implemented and monitored as part of the Marikana social engagement strategy and pursued based on systematic social risk management. Sibanye-Stillwater has been taking such an approach, social risks are also regularly discussed with relevant stakeholders.
Continued Stakeholder Engagement
BASF has continuously initiated stakeholder dialogs, e.g. with Bread for the World, Amnesty International, the Bench Marks Foundation, Center for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) as well as with Reverend Joseph Seoka, a retired South African Anglican bishop, and other members of the Plough Back the Fruits Initiative. In 2020, stakeholder dialogs were held only virtually. BASF participated in the Courageous Conversations dialogue 2020 which was organized as a web conference, as well as in the Bench Marks foundations’ virtually organized annual conference. BASF also continued bi-lateral exchange with stakeholders.
Marikana Memorial Day
Sibanye-Stillwater developed a new vision for the regeneration of Marikana (“honour/ engage/ create”) which includes long-term sustainable projects to build capacity of local communities surrounding Marikana. Since the takeover from Lonmin, Sibanye-Stillwater has sought to intensify engagement with many of its stakeholders in and around Marikana, particularly with those most directly affected by the tragedy, namely the families of the deceased. Sibanye-Stillwater continued Lonmin’s tradition to organize a Marikana Memorial Day on the date on which the tragedy took place, to honor victims and to promote its new vision of creating a new legacy of healing and opportunity.
Find more about Marikana Memorial activities here.
Industry Sustainability Initiative
In 2018, BASF, together with other fabricators, initiated a sustainability initiative under the International Platinum Group Metals Association (IPA). Under this initiative, IPA members regularly meet to discuss and address industry challenges. The IPA membership comprises key South African PGM mining houses and their customers on the fabricator side, among those BASF. IPA members agreed to a sustainability initiative under the IPA Sustainability Committee to improve living and working conditions of people in communities around mining operations. Important elements of this initiative include comprehensive sustainability audits in the South African PGM sector, exchange on success factors regarding community challenges and best practices. IPA members endorsed audit principles on the quality of schemes assuring sustainability performance and committed to auditing sites under this scheme. The audit principles, built up on internationally recognized standards, commensurate with the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA), TfS’s mining standards, and ISEAL quality principles. IPA platinum mines are committed to carry out audits on their operations under this sustainability assurance scheme.
COVID-19 has also affected the South African mining industry. Under South African disaster regulations, South African mines could operate at a reduced capacity of 50% of their normal production. The company responded with COVID-19 support programs addressing the areas of health, social relief, the support of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME), education and awareness. R100 million (€5.8 million) were invested in support of government programs and company driven projects concerning employee health and community support. Sibanye-Stillwater was cautious about the return to underground mining and followed social distancing protocols resulting in reduced shifts and output of metals.
Find more on Sibanye-Stillwater's measurements during the pandemic here.
Find more on Sibanye-Stillwater support initiatives during the pandemic here.