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Sasol’s investment in social infrastructure

IMIESA talks to Dr Sarel Booyens, Senior Manager: Mining Rights and SLP who is based at Sasol’s Secunda operation, about Sasol Mining’s implementation of community projects within Govan Mbeki Municipality.

there are two key objectives that Sasol focuses on to achieve community transformation. The first is Sasol Mining’s statutory requirement for Social Labour Plan (SLP) implementation in terms of the South African Mining Charter. The second is Sasol’s long-standing commitment in terms of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, spearheaded locally by Ikusasa.

A pioneer in fuel from coal petrochemical production, Sasol is an integrated chemicals and energy company with a global footprint. In South Africa, the group’s original coal-to-liquids complex in Sasolburg (Sasol 1) started production in 1955. Sasol 2 and 3 subsequently came on stream in 1980 and 1982, respectively.

Sasol Mining produces approximately 40 million tonnes of saleable coal annually, mostly for gasification feedstock and utilities coal feeding into Secunda and Sasolburg.

This discussion focuses on Sasol Mining’s SLP and Ikusasa initiatives within Govan Mbeki Municipality (GMM), which is headquartered in Secunda.

What are the broad objectives outlined by the Mining Charter?

SB  South Africa’s Mining Charter focuses on transformation, of which community development is a critical pillar. The other pillars include ownership, human resources development, employment equity, procurement (which includes enterprise development), sustainability and health and beneficiation.

The only elements of the Mining Charter that the SLP doesn’t deal with are ownership and minerals beneficiation.

How do you define your stakeholders in terms of your SLP objectives?

In the broader context, we serve South Africa. An example would be the upgrade or construction of public roads accessing some of our mines, which wouldn’t be defined as a community project since Sasol would be the direct beneficiary.

Indirectly, our employees are part of the community, so they do benefit from SLP projects like water and sewer upgrades. However it’s the broader community we’re directly targeting in terms of our Mining Charter and SLP mandate where we have rolled out some major projects, particular in terms of health, water and wastewater upgrades.

Our community projects are identified in terms of the municipality’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP). Sasol serves as an implementer on behalf of the municipality.

We also provide bursaries and training, both internally and externally, in terms of our SLP. This includes adult education and training
and internships.

What is Sasol’s current budget for SLP projects, and over what timeframe?

SLPs cover a period of five years and are reviewed every five years. Sasol’s current SLP programme is for the 2015 to 2020 period, with approximately R230 million allocated purely for community development projects. In respect of the Secunda Complex, we operate within four local municipalities and the amount allocated to GMM is approximately R74 million. In addition, we have budgeted approximately R32 million for our community development projects in the Free State.

Are there specific challenges to implementing SLPs? And how does Sasol go about implementing them to achieve the desired outcomes?

The biggest challenge is to address the dire need for employment and finding ways to employ community members during project implementation. We also have to ensure that the best local contractor is appointed to implement our community development projects.

Unskilled and semi-skilled labour is sourced from the local community. Sasol Mining has an arrangement with the Department of Labour (DoL) regarding recruitment. For each project, we work through the DoL as prospective workers are invited to register on the DoL database. Contractors are required to source from this list in terms of their labour requirements. This approach ensures that the overall labour recruitment process is fair and transparent. To facilitate interaction between the community and the project, we appoint a community liaison officer, from the relevant community, on each project.

Sasol Mining appoints black-owned contractors and service providers for its SLP projects, as far as is practically possible. We also assist in contractor development, which includes assistance with registering them on the Sasol database. Our project managers also assist contractors during the implementation of these projects and in the process pass on invaluable experience.

Could you provide recent examples of SLP projects implemented for GMM?

In addition to the upgrade of the eMzinoni Community Health Centre, at a cost of
R11 million, our R11.5 million investment in constructing and equipping a fire station in Leandra is a good example. We constructed, furnished, equipped and bought vehicles for the Leandra fire station. Previously, the closest fire station was in Secunda/Evander with a response time of around an hour. Leandra and Lebohang are densely populated towns with many informal dwellings. This facility also plays a key role in the event of motor vehicle accidents on the N17, when fires break out in the town and surrounding rural areas, and also assists in combating fires in nearby towns. Some 26 jobs were created for locals during construction.

The eMbalenhle Extension 26 sewer project is another good example. The residents of eMbalenhle Extension 26 experienced enormous problems. Some areas were continuously flooded with raw sewage, which posed a significant health risk to the community.

Sasol Mining, in cooperation with GMM, replaced and repaired broken or blocked sewer lines in the area at a cost of approximately R8 million. During this project, the contactor appointed was actually based in eMbalenhle. On completion of the project, the sewer system was fully functional and the community was able to use flush toilets for the first time in four years.

Sasol Mining also promotes affordable home ownership for low-income employees. In general, a severe housing shortage exists in the Secunda area. To address this, Sasol Mining is constructing affordable housing, in close cooperation with the labour unions, GMM and the Provincial Department of Human Settlements.

Could you expand on the objectives of the Sasol Ikusasa initiative?

Our SLP objectives meet the requirements of our mining right, while Sasol Ikusasa goes well beyond this and is part of our corporate social investment programme. Where possible, we work together to ensure that our efforts have a lasting, positive impact in our communities. An example of this cooperation is the eMbalenhle sewerage project: Sasol Mining was in alignment with Ikusasa’s initiative, which included the upgrading of the pump station. The project was handed over to GMM on 1 July 2016. Infrastructure has been one of Ikusasa’s focus areas in the last 12 months.

Our R13 million investment in electrical substation upgrades is another good example. Secunda’s substation has three transformers installed. If any of these fail, power supply to the town will be affected

The Secunda electrical substation reliability project was intended to improve the reliability of power supply by installing a new standby (33 kv/11 kv, 20 MVA) transformer.

A further example of Sasol’s commitment to investing in local communities is the handover, in February 2017, of an improved state-of-the art clinic in eMbalenhle Extension 14. Sasol Ikusasa appointed local service providers to undertake this R9 million project, which has made a substantial difference in the lives of the local community.

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