Johannesburg - In the 12 years to the end of financial 2012, Lonmin built no houses for employees and although it failed to deliver on its housing commitments, its mining licence was not reviewed.
This is one of many damning conclusions of a research report by Bench Marks Foundation, a community-based NGO. The report, “Coping with Unsustainability”, is based on an in-depth analysis of 10 years of Lonmin’s sustainable development reports, which are included each year in its annual reports.
The Bench Marks report also describes how the much-touted “hostel conversion” process is aggravating the housing shortage. According to the report, the hostels housed seven or eight workers previously while the converted units only house one or two workers.
“While Lonmin is fulfilling its obligations in the social and labour plan to ‘convert’ all hostels by 2014, the displaced workers are building shacks in Nkageng and other informal settlements,” the report reads.
The Bench Marks research also found that the company had “continuously exceeded both residential and industrial dust pollution limits”.
Bench Marks called on the Department of Mineral Resources to enforce the mining charter’s provisions on housing and environmental protection and to insist on accurate reporting on contract workers.
The report says: “It is not clear what a mining company in South Africa must do to lose its mining licence.”
A Mineral Resources Department spokesman said yesterday that it had not had time to study the report, but noted: “Should it be found that any company cited in the report has not complied with the law, the necessary enforcements will apply.”
The report describes some of the difficulties involved in holding a company to account. “A close and comparative reading of the sustainable development reports over the 10-year period reveals that many of the goals set out in earlier reports are abandoned, not reached and eventually not talked about or not referred to in the same terms,” Bench Marks executive director John Capel said.
Yesterday Lonmin was unable to provide Business Report with details on the number of houses built from 1999 to 2012.
With regard to the report, a Lonmin spokesman said: “While Bench Marks has given Lonmin a copy of the report, unfortunately they did not engage us during its compilation, although we have begun discussions aimed at finding common ground. We have started going through the detailed analysis… but given the 10-year span and the changes in reporting methodology we need more time.”
He added that while Bench Marks’ and Lonmin’s perspectives might differ, “we ultimately want the same thing”.
In his address to the Bench Marks conference yesterday Bishop Jo Seoka, the chairman of Bench Marks, said: “Mining impacts have winners and losers. The winners are shareholders and executive management and the losers are surrounding communities and workers, whose water, air, health and livelihoods are negatively affected.” - Business Report