At Platinum Group Metals we commit to building value for all stakeholders, shareholders, employees, communities and government. We commit to do our work safely and responsibly and to advance our assets to production while striving to be a good neighbour and a contributing member of the communities where we work. We commit to compliance with all regulations, to protect the environment and to honour our obligations. We commit to engage in open and transparent dialogue internally and externally in a climate of mutual respect. We commit to look for best value and spend the Company’s money like it is our own.
Responsibilities to Communities
We believe in the importance of transparent dialogue with our local communities and we strive to be a good neighbour and an active catalyst for positive change. We believe this to be a sound business practice that will benefit shareholders’ long term returns.
Our Mission in Corporate Social Responsibility
- to fully comply with our obligations under the Social and Labour Plan filed with government as a part of our Mining Right.
- to be a good member of the community with the objectives of creating a climate of mutual respect so we can build and operate our mine successfully to the benefit of all stakeholders.
- to create a corporate culture of integrity, openness and creativity that attracts the best people.
We hold quarterly community stakeholder engagement meetings and consultations to provide updates on our Social and Labour Plan obligations and to strengthen our relationship with stakeholders. We made solid investments in community projects in 2014 within a total five year budget of 35 million Rand. We remain committed to hiring local employees whenever possible. To advance this objective we engaged in a qualification and experience verification process for local employment candidates within our data base earlier in 2014. This process assisted with the determination of each candidate’s skill level, educational background and employability.
In addition to our specific Social and Labour Plan obligations, our focus for 2015 will be on areas where we are playing to our strengths and working with the passions of our team members. Project areas where we plan to go beyond the minimum are:
- Community Directed Needs Projects – utilizing feedback from our local employees and stakeholders we are able to find out what is needed in specific communities and then make a difference by undertaking meaningful projects.
- School Support and Involvement in Science and Sports – as detailed below, we inherited the Sports Academy when we bought the Sundown Ranch Hotel several years ago. This year we added a dimension to our engagement with schools by sending our project technical personnel out to them as positive role models for employment through science and education programs.
- Public Health – as detailed below, we strive to improve public health through employment and community education on health issues as part of our Social and Labour Plan. Beyond our Social and Labour Plan responsibilities we are actively working on outside programs and third party funding to leverage our on the ground presence as part of a contribution to larger public health initiatives, allowing us to effectively “Punch Above our Weight”.
Community Development Details
Our Social and Labour Plan obligations guide our community development activities and we look for ways to leverage our strengths and do more than the minimum required. Our Social and Labour Plan team is working on a variety of activities to further our goal of increasing local employment opportunities. We see our community engagement as a win-win opportunity. If we are successful with our work on community projects we establish a strong brand and attract the best people.
We held two different capacity-building training sessions this year. One training session focused on community leadership, while the other session focused on small and medium-sized enterprise development. In addition to our learnership program, where specific work skills are taught, we also have an active internship program that provides recent graduates with practical experience and training. This past year we hosted nine interns who have successfully completed their internships and are now employed at WBJV Project 1 mine or in other companies. In 2014, we also supported nine university students with bursaries. These students are studying mining-related fields. In 2015, we plan to start a vacation work program so our bursary students can gain practical experience during breaks while continuing their studies.
We are committed to ensuring that local community members are receiving the skills and training needed to gain employment. Thirty-four unemployed local community members received specialized training and certification that allows them to work underground. Twenty-four are now currently employed by one of the contractors at WBJV Project 1 mine.
In addition to providing employment and training opportunities in mining-related fields, we also are supporting small and medium-sized enterprises in the local communities. We have purchased three mobile kitchens, creating small scale successful food service businesses right on our site. These skills and equipment can be moved elsewhere. Local community members have been trained and are managing these kitchens. We are also developing an egg farming project in one of the local communities which will generate more local employment opportunities.
In 2014, we completed the refurbishment of another local high school science laboratory and a community office, following the successful execution of similar projects in 2013. Also in accordance with our agreed Social and Labour Plan, with community involvement and direction, we and the community identified thirty-two destitute families and we had our construction team use their expertise to build thirty two new homes. In December 2014 the houses were handed over, creating very positive feedback from the individuals and the community as a whole. The beneficiaries will also receive donations of surplus furniture and items from Sundown Ranch Hotel owned by the mine.
We believe fully that community development needs to be long-term and sustainable. Skills and training need to be transferable to other industries and opportunities. Our Corporate Social Investment program aligns with and supports our Social and Labour Plan obligations. To manage our Corporate Social Investment program, and attract outside funding through donations, this year we established the Platinum Training and Mentorship Foundation (“PTM Foundation”). The foundation held its first fund raising event in 2014 supported by contractors working at the WBJV Project 1 mine site.
Our Sports Academy program continues to operate at local schools. Nine local youths are employed as sports trainers to teach physical education courses in local high schools and primary schools. In 2014, the PTM Foundation implemented an education program known as “Ikateleng”. This program provides local learners in Grades 10, 11, and 12 who have the potential to reach university with supplementary math and science education through Saturday classes. Ikateleng goes beyond academic programming and also offers psychometric testing, career guidance, study skills, and life skills training. Learners are encouraged to start their own study groups at their own schools to share the knowledge they have learned through the Ikateleng program and to learn facilitation and leadership skills. To further promote math and science education and careers, we held a Career Guidance Week for local high school learners in June 2014 to provide information on mining careers and the math and science education required to make those careers a possibility.
We continue to work on developing a community health initiative to assist in the fight against HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis. In recognition of this, in June 2014 we were nominated as a private sector representative to the Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Board. The Stop TB Partnership operates under the World Health Organization and is focused on reducing the global burden caused by tuberculosis.
Mining Charter Report Card
Legislation and regulation in South Africa require a 26% equity interest in mineral rights by a qualified BEE entity in order to maintain such rights in good standing. Platinum Group Metals has supported 26% ownership in all of its projects since their inception at the exploration stage. Africa Wide Mineral Prospecting and Exploration (Pty) Ltd. (“Africa Wide”) has been the BEE partner to the WBJV Project 1 mine since the original WBJV was formed in 2004. In 2007 Wesizwe Platinum Limited (“Wesizwe”) obtained 100% control of Africa Wide, with the consent of the DMR. Wesizwe then repaid Platinum Group Metals for all amounts due from Africa Wide for their share of past exploration work.
In October 2013 Wesizwe elected not to fund Africa Wide’s share of ongoing cash requirements for the construction and development of the WBJV Project 1 mine. Because Africa Wide is the Company’s BEE partner for the WBJV Project 1, the Company immediately advised the DMR of Africa Wide’s decision and the associated dilution implications. The DMR provided the Company with a letter stating that it will apply the provisions of the MPRDA to any administrative processes or decisions to be conducted or taken within a reasonable time and in accordance with the principles of lawfulness, reasonableness and procedural fairness in giving the Company the opportunity to remedy the effect of Africa Wide’s dilution.
In early 2014 the Company entered into arbitration proceedings with Africa Wide to determine the extent of Africa Wide’s dilution in Maseve in accordance with the terms of the Maseve Shareholders Agreement. On August 20, 2014, an arbitrator ruled in the Company’s favour on all points and as a result Africa Wide’s ownership has been diluted to approximately 17.1%.
The Company is currently working on a plan to sell the diluted percentage interest in Maseve previously held by Africa Wide to an alternative, qualified BEE company. Under the terms of the Maseve Shareholders Agreement, if Maseve is instructed by the DMR to increase its BEE ownership, any agreed costs or dilution of interests shall be borne equally by the Company and Africa Wide, notwithstanding that Africa Wide now holds only approximately 17.1% of the equity in Maseve.
Mnombo is the 26% BEE partner for the Waterberg projects. The Company is considering financing and transaction alternatives whereby Mnombo could become the BEE partner for the WBJV Project 1 mine.
Concentrate from the WBJV Project 1 mine will be purchased and treated to refined metal in South Africa under a long term off-take contract with Rustenburg, a direct subsidiary of Anglo Platinum.
Platinum Group Metals has supported human resource development initiatives in South Africa since 2004. In particular, the Company has looked for qualified applicants to increase the number of women employed in mining roles and increase the number of employees who are classified as historically disadvantaged South Africans. We have complied with the Mining Charter guidelines for inclusion in management and many other roles in accordance with the Mining Charter while also maintaining high standards and qualification requirements.
Human Resource Development
We have met or exceeded our requirements for Human Resource Development with special attention to add skills and qualifications that have application beyond only mining. We have been successful in meeting our Social and Labour Plan guidelines
Mine Community Development
Our facilities at the Sundown Ranch continue to assist us in being an active community member with sports days, conferences and meetings. Our focus on sports and science in our community engagement and active participation in schools has been well received. The Communities and the DMR have been responsive and active in ensuring our projects are flexible and practical.
Housing and Living Conditions
During our self-audit of the living conditions provided for the employees of our contractors in 2014, we found sub-standard accommodations. We found cases where multiple persons were living in one room and sub-standard sanitation. We were disappointed to see this situation, but we were pleased that through our own diligence we found and corrected these problems. Interestingly, the DMR inspected the accommodations just a few weeks after we detected the problem and we were able to demonstrate that we had already insisted on changes.
Sustainable Growth in the Mining Industry
We monitor our environment closely and our reclamation plans are current. We monitor health and safety closely and look for continuous improvement. Our safety performance has been good through 2014 and we have actively and positively interacted with regulators inviting inspection and interaction. We have significant skills training investment and these skills will go beyond mining.