Implementing improvements: Measures 2016

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Remaining in dialog: Discussions with NGOs and interest groups

At the instigation of BASF, the annual GBI Conference on Human Rights, the Global Business Initiative, took place in Johannesburg in May 2016. Following this conference, BASF held a multi-stakeholder workshop with numerous interest groups in South Africa. This workshop served as a starting point for discussions and collaboration among the key players in the mining industry, including regional operators and NGOs. The insights gained at this workshop were vital in outlining to the mining industry how to better address many societal challenges that exist in South Africa.

The situation in South Africa is extremely multifaceted and cannot be solved in the short term by one institution alone. Only when all the involved parties work together can improvements be achieved for the local population.

In September 2016, a follow-up meeting took place with Lonmin, other mine operators and the Seriti Institute. In December 2016, BASF brought together key operators of platinum mines and other players in the platinum value chain in Johannesburg, South Africa. In both meetings, the design of concerted approaches to improve living and working conditions beyond the social and work plans were the focus.

In addition, BASF representatives not only met locally with Lonmin’s management, but also with employee representatives, mine workers, union representatives, local stakeholders and South African representatives of non-governmental organizations, such as the Bench Marks Foundation or the Center for Applied Legal Studies.

Several stakeholders in the platinum value chain came together at the Business Stakeholder Dialogue in Johannesburg in early December.

We were therefore able to obtain a personal impression of the living and working conditions. We looked at the housing conditions, public institutions, such as schools and hospitals, exchanged views with the population and also visited two of the widows in their homes. We have also inspected the underground working conditions.

In December 2016, we brought together key operators of platinum mines and other players in the platinum value chain in Johannesburg, South Africa, in order to discuss how the mining industry in South Africa can achieve visible improvements. We initiated and organized this dialog event. Almost all regional operators of platinum mines, numerous platinum buyers, including automotive OEMs and automotive manufacturers, as well as mining and human rights experts took part in the meeting. The aim of the initiative is that the platinum mine operators develop a common approach to improve the living and working conditions of all the people throughout the platinum mining belt in a long-term and sustainable manner and thus ensure a permanently responsible supply chain of raw materials for their customers.

As part of this dialog, we also discussed activities beyond mining. This involved project-related opportunities for cooperation between the mining companies, which could lead to an improvement in conditions in the platinum mining belt over the course of time, for example through improved collaboration between the companies and municipalities in terms of investing in infrastructure measures such as schools and hospitals. An important issue was how the available money could be invested in a more targeted and effective manner so that the local population could notice an improvement in their living conditions. According to our information, about 2 billion South African Rand (EUR 140 million) is currently being invested annually by South African mine operators, within the framework of the social and work plans, in infrastructure, health, education etc. Unfortunately, many of these projects do not always have the desired effect because a lack of governmental coordination results in resources not being used efficiently and in a targeted way.