Good community relations is as necessary for our business success as the effective management of our operations. This belief is at the heart of our overall approach with communities and is why we work hard to build good relationships with the people in our area of influence.
The annual Rössing Marathon National Championship held in Swakopmund is a popular event on the Namibian athletics calender.
We strive to build enduring relationships based on open, respectful and trustworthy communication, which promote better understanding of our impact on the social and physical environment and ensure a significant contribution to Namibia's economic and social development.
We acknowledge that operating within a sustainable community provides our business distinct benefits, such as skilled and locally available employees; capable, local suppliers of goods and services; access to sustainably managed natural resources; and healthy and safe environments for our employees and their families.
With this in mind, we implement long-term community development plans that focus on improvements in quality of life. In 2017 we continued successful efforts to maintain these mutually-beneficial relationships.
Despite facing various production and market challenges during 2017, we remained steadfast in honouring our corporate social responsibilities. We accomplished this goal through continued investment in supporting sustainability of our neighbouring communities.
We align our community and social investment focus with the requirements of Namibia's Mining Charter. The charter, overseen by the Chamber of Mines of Namibia, is aimed at positively and proactively addressing sustainable and broad-based economic and social transformation in the Namibian mining sector and is grounded in key Government policies such as Vision 2030, the Harambee Prosperity Plan 2016-2020 and the National Development Plan 5 (NDP5). Throughout 2017 we ensured accountability by tracking our compliance against the charter’s targets.
The Rössing Foundation provides library services to community members in the towns of Arandis, Ondangwa and Swakopmund. The purpose of the libraries is to ensure learners, teachers and community members have access to information through books.
During the year under review we committed a total of N$12.5 million towards the implementation of community initiatives and activities. This is over and above the direct and indirect economic benefits we created through local employment and the procurement of goods and services from local businesses. We channelled most of our community and social investments through the Rössing Foundation, but also supported various community investment initiatives directly.
Because we pro-actively promote healthy, safe and environmentally responsible lifestyles amongst our stakeholders, we also made direct contributions to initiatives targeting:
- biodiversity protection through support of the annual birdwatching event;
- healthy living by way of the annual Rössing Marathon National Championship and family fun walk;
- awareness of personal health; and
- waste-management activities on site.
We continue to provide support for other initiatives such as the Erongo House of Safety in Swakopmund through our partnership with the Erongo Development Foundation, the Swakopmund Museum, the West Coast Safety Initiative, as well as the Arandis Investment Conference and Uranium Festival, the most recent of which was held in November 2017.
We also coordinated a fundraising drive in support of the Kunene Regional Council (KRC), benefiting the Onkiiye satellite school in the region. The Ondiiye satellite school is part of a barren settlement area 150 km west of Opuwo. Many of the homes of the children who attend the school are situated kilometres away, forcing the learners to risk run-ins with wild animals and other strangers while they walk over long distances to attend class.
Following the request for assistance by the KRC to upgrade and build more facilities for the school and its learners, and as a result of our fundraising initiative, much needed funds were donated by one of our contractor companies, Uibasen Cleaning Services, which went towards funding the construction of more classrooms, dormitories and accommodation units for the teachers. The ‘Namibia Project’ of the United Kingdom also provided the school in one of Namibia’s poorest regions with tracksuits, school uniforms, school shoes and cutlery and crockery for the 26 learners. The Rössing Foundation pledged books from their libraries.
We empowered 14 trainers from the Swakopmund Community Skills Development Centre (COSDEC) with much-needed knowledge through sponsoring an introductory training course, focusing on health, safety and environmental management. At the certificate hand-over event, Rössing’s managing director, Werner Duvenhage, applauded the trainers for making time to attend such important training. He said: “I’m really impressed that the Rössing Uranium team is assisting our communities and that in turn, our partners are open to receiving our help, especially when it comes to safety training. It is really encouraging.”
In addition to in-kind and financial contributions, we directed our employees’ technical expertise to engage with the public and with community-based organisations to increase health, safety and environmental awareness within the Erongo Region. One such activity is radiation safety training, offered to the public in collaboration with the Namibian Uranium Institute. We also provided expertise to the Namibian Uranium Association on watermanagement issues to reduce the mining sector’s footprint on regional water resources.
Rössing assisted the Swakopmund Community Skills Development Centre (COSDEC) with much-needed knowledge through sponsoring an introductory training course, focusing on health, safety and environmental management.
Internal and external communication activities
One of the key enablers in our business success is informing both our internal and external stakeholders about our operations. The Corporate Communication section use various platforms, initiatives and activities to establish, nurture and maintain good relationships and promote the sharing of information with our stakeholders.
During 2017 various strategic communication activities were implemented to disseminate information about Rössing Uranium via a variety of channels in the print and electronic media, as well as by means of face-to-face communication.
We also kept the Namibian Government informed about our corporate business strategy. This was accomplished through the mine’s senior management engaging politicians and senior officials on a number of matters of mutual interest. A number of stakeholder engagement events hosted during the year for the Namibia business community shared information about our business performance.
Our visitors’ programme is a key means of engaging guests from around the world. Besides members of the public, the programme welcomes specialists, academics and Government officials. In 2017, we hosted 44 tours at the mine with a total of 844 visitors.
Media relations were facilitated through the management of various media enquiries and through invitations to a number of informationsharing events. The latter promoted the strengthening of our relationships with the media and facilitated balanced coverage of our operations and business activities.
Other communication activities involved a variety of external stakeholders.
We hosted the 17th annual Rio Tinto Rössing bird- watching event, which is part of the larger partnership between Rio Tinto and Birdlife International.
In line with our drive to promote healthy habits and support positive lifestyles in the community, we sponsored the 26th Rössing Marathon National Championship, while Swakop Striders Athletics Club hosted the event. The competitors participated in a marathon and a 10- km race, while a 5-km fun walk was held in support of the Cancer Association of Namibia. The event attracted approximately 400 athletes and 200 members of the public who participated in the fun walk.
The cash and in-kind sponsorships and donations initiated through the Corporate Communications section totalled about N$500,000 in 2017.