The Mineral and Petroleum Development Act (Act No 28 of 2002) is one of many regulations developed to transform the mining and production industries in South Africa. The Act requires the submission of a Social and Labour Plan (SLP) by mining/production organisations as a pre-requisite for granting of rights that ensure effective transformation within the industries.
The SLP requires applicants to develop comprehensive Human Resources Development Programmes, Mine Community Development Plans, Housing and Living Conditions Plans, as well as Employment Equity Plans to save jobs and manage downscaling or closure. SLP programme implementation aims to ensure socio-economic development, by promoting employment and advancing social and economic welfare of all South Africans.
To monitor progress made by the industries, according to their SLP, a Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) should be conducted every 3-5 years. This assists implementation teams in fulfilling their mandate to manage the organisation’s social investment into initiatives aimed at creating sustainable communities.
CONDUCTING A SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT ASSESSMENT IN THE MINING INDUSTRY
MAC Consulting was appointed by one of South Africa’s largest and foremost black-empowered resource companies to conduct the SEIA for them at one of their operations. This was to determine and capture the significance of the contribution of the mine and Socio-Economic Development (SED) projects on the host community. The aim was to follow a structured, inclusive and rigorous approach, focused on ensuring that:
- The agreed elements of the SEIA were comprehensively and professionally completed
- Appropriate stakeholder engagement and involvement was achieved
- Ownership of the initiative and outcomes resided with the organisation
Stakeholder Engagement was aligned with the AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard and use was made of the relevant principles provided by the company’s Socio-Economic Assessment Toolbox (SEAT). MAC drew from best practices such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s (IFAD’s) Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT), to draft assessment questionnaires for internal and external stakeholders.
The method to conduct the assessment within the community consisted of three phases, with an underlying element of project management and communication, which continued throughout the engagement.
In Phase 1, MAC engaged with multiple key internal stakeholders to determine expectations of the project and to gather relevant information for the initial desktop review research process. MAC also worked with the organisation’s project representatives to develop the detailed project plan and to commence with the scheduling of key events, such as the initiation of the survey period.
Using the information gathered, questionnaires were developed and uploaded into an online survey tool to enable the easy facilitation of the interview process and accuracy of data capturing whilst conducting the interviews with various stakeholders.
The Phase 2 objective was to gather, collate and interpret information focusing on inputs required for the development of the SEIA report and the definition of the impact, opportunities and risks.
A small team of local graduates were recruited and capacitated to conduct and collate the community stakeholder survey process. This contributed to overcoming potential language barriers and enabled constructive engagements. It also provided skills development and a work experience opportunity for the youth.
An assessment of the previous and current SED Projects was conducted with stakeholders. This allowed the team to: identify strengths and gaps of the projects with regard to meeting their objectives and the needs of the community; capture lessons learnt that will be informative for future plans and projects; and to make recommendations in the SEIA report, giving insight into associated strategies. More than 350 stakeholders from various stakeholder groups were interviewed during this phase of the project.
The final phase involved consolidation and analysis of the information gathered during the interview and research processes into a final SEIA report. This report focused on identifying key impacts, opportunities and socio-economic risks and providing recommendations to inform the SLP and SED projects going forward, as well as recommending associated strategies for the business.
The SEIA will assist in enabling the Community Development team to fulfil their mandate to manage the organisation’s social investment in initiatives to create sustainable communities through proactive engagement, deep understanding of societal needs and regulations and application of best practices.