RICHARDS Bay Minerals (RBM) managing director Werner Duvenhage.
RICHARDS Bay Minerals (RBM) managing director Werner Duvenhage.

Richards Bay Minerals resumes operations after fixing issues with community

By Gcwalisile Khanyile Time of article published Aug 26, 2021

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DURBAN - RICHARDS Bay Minerals (RBM) has revealed that it has addressed core issues that have kept its businesses closed and could now safely and sustainably restart operations, including the release of R130 million to the community trusts.

This was revealed by the company’s managing director Werner Duvenhage, during a virtual media briefing on Wednesday.

The company had resolved five key triggers that would ensure RBM restarted operations – with a guarantee that its employees would be safe, and operations secure and stable.

These triggers were: continued and sustained peace, more security on the ground, pro-activeness from traditional councils and their substructures, engagement of national and provincial government, and disbursement of funds to community trusts.

On August 24, RBM signed an agreement with Amakhosi from the four host communities of KwaMbonambi, KwaMkhwanazi, KwaDube and KwaSokhulu, that committed all parties to ensuring the long-term modernisation of the trusts and compliance with the trust deeds.

RBM then released more than R130m to the community trusts, in line with its obligation, as part of the mining rights.

Duvenhage said they had agreed on transparency and holding each other accountable, by roping in the community, government, trustees, and other stakeholders.

“We have done a lot of work to find sustainable solutions to the issues that led to Rio Tinto declaring Force Majeure on June 30,” said Duvenhage.

He said the key focus was now on restarting business operations and maintaining assets.

Duvenhage said a team of the SAPS detectives were investigating the murder of the company’s senior manager Nico Swart, alongside other murder cases at RBM.

He described the agreement with Amakhosi as a significant milestone, that demonstrated the collaborative spirit with various stakeholders, who were all committed to ensuring the broad-based upliftment of the local communities.

“Having signed another agreement with the Sokhulu community a few weeks back, our final task was to resolve the issue of the disbursement of funds to the four community trusts,” said Duvenhage.

He said, for some time, RBM had serious concerns around the governance of the trusts and the lack of evidence of broad-based benefit for the communities.

“To address these concerns, we have been working closely with the government, Amakhosi, and other stakeholders, to agree on a plan that improves governance and leads to the modernisation of the trusts so that the trust funds, now and in the future, are used to benefit and empower the broader communities,” added Duvenhage.

King Martin Mbuyazi of KwaMbonambi, who also serves as the committee co-ordinator between the mine, Amakhosi, and other stakeholders, said he wanted the company to reopen so that people can have jobs. He said the four communities had a 2% stake of the company. He said the money did not come directly to Amakhosi, but through community projects.

Duvenhage said: “We acknowledge that the current preferential status of Amakhosi is incorporated into the trust deeds, which were established in 2008, as part of the BBBEE transaction.”

He said the context had evolved over the last 10 years.

Daily News

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