Our people are the most important asset of our business. In order to sustain and expand our operations, we need a safe, healthy and engaged workforce.
Aspiring to be an employer of choice, Rössing Uranium provides long-term and rewarding employment by investing in our people throughout their careers.
We believe that through employment creation we are making significant contributions to society and the economy, and contribute positively to our partnerships with local communities and other stakeholders. We recognise the importance of attracting, developing and retaining people with diverse backgrounds in our business and realise the benefits of developing the skills of others.
It is the mandate of the Training and Development section to see that this commitment is demonstrated and aligned to the Company’s needs and objectives.
Johannes Nekongo, foreman: ore supply, leads a discussion on safety and production with his team of operators starting a new shift in the mining operations.
Safety is a core value at Rössing Uranium – employees and contractors must ensure that it is safe to start work.
Workforce at a glance
At the end of 2018, Rössing Uranium had a workforce totalling 967, slightly more than the 956 at the end of the previous reporting year. The average number of contractors at the mine decreased slightly from 964 to 938.
Employee relations continued to be an important focus area for our business during 2018 as we strive to maintain harmonious relations with our workforce. One minor work stoppage was experienced in 2018. A monthly company-union forum takes place where both sides discuss issues and resolve matters. The two-year salary agreement signed by Rössing Uranium and the Rössing branch of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia is still in force until 2019.
Inclusion and diversity
Inclusion and diversity remains a key initiative that serves as the foundation for accelerated development and retention. Our workforce numbers have been stable over the past four years (see the table below).
Capability and development
At Rössing Uranium, capacity building and development of our people is a critical process aimed at enhancing productivity and organisational performance. The Training and Development section supports the mine's strategy to achieve its objectives by providing support and services to the various departments through collaboration and partnerships.
Our vision is to develop our people for growth, allowing our employees to recognise the Rössing Uranium values in terms of learning. The next few pages highlight the initiatives that will support us in achieving our goal of empowering and developing the workforce.
Rio Tinto People Survey
Rössing continued to participate in the Rio Tinto Group-wide People Survey which provided employees with an opportunity to share their views on various aspects of the business. The aim of the survey is to listen, obtain input from employees, learn from the feedback and improve the business with focused actions on an on-going basis. This will result in a safer and inclusive environment where people are empowered to perform, challenge, develop and excel.
Two surveys were conducted, one during the first half of the year and the other during the second half of the year. The results indicated that those who responded to the survey have a largely favourable view of working at the mine.
Recognising our employees
Rössing Uranium is committed to recognising our employees as a means of improving employee morale which drives performance excellence and engagement. The Making-a-Difference (MAD) programme has grown since its inception in 2012.
With our defined values of safety, teamwork, respect, integrity and excellence, we recognise and reward our people’s efforts in their quest for excellence. During 2018, 103 employees received recognition awards for their effort and for going the extra mile.
Developing young Namibians is part of our corporate social responsibility as it contributes to the growth of the nation at large and ensures the development of skills. A total of eight bursary students received support from Rössing Uranium at a total investment of N$729,372 (excluding vacation work).
Two new bursaries in the fields of electrical and metallurgical engineering were awarded during 2018 for the 2019 academic year in line with operational requirements as determined by our manpower plan. Five existing bursaries were renewed during the same period.
The mine’s educational assistance scheme for employee dependants at tertiary education level supported 28 dependants at a total investment of N$550,000. A total of 30 trade apprentices completed their job attachments as part of their tertiary education curriculum, exposing them to on-the-job learning opportunities within their various disciplines. Further opportunities to support trade apprentices will continue during 2019.
Vocational Education and Training Levy
Rössing Uranium has participated in the Namibia Training Authority's Vocational Education and Training (VET) Levy submission since its inception. Through its contribution, the mine has contributed N$7 million during the 2018 training-levy cycle. A rebate of N$ 6.7 million was received for the 2014-2017 period.
Technical training remains pivotal to ensure that the knowledge, skills and attributes of our workforce are enhanced. Various training interventions to drive efficiency and effectiveness were conducted to ensure that skills are imparted at the right levels.
Caterpillar (CAT) equipment training was identified as an area where practical on-the-job training for operators and maintainers was required during 2018. The aspects of the CAT training include elimination of ‘machine abuse’, an understanding of the cost associated with ‘machine abuse’ among the operators and technical skills trainers, a reduction in unscheduled failure of major components, providing of tailored engineering solutions for operational cases that intrinsically breach the original equipment manufacturer standards which is applicable to all CAT equipment on the mine site.
The value of learning
Rio Tinto graduate summit
Rio Tinto launched the Graduate Excellence Path in June 2017. Part of the programme is for graduates in all Rio Tinto businesses to attend a three-day summit which enables them to gain a better understanding of the Rio Tinto values and how Rio Tinto operates, whilst building core leadership competencies during group exercises, as well as establishing networks with leadership, technical experts and other graduates.
In 2018, nine Rössing Uranium graduates attended the summit in Perth, Australia where they engaged with presenters and participants from around the world. In total, there were 120 graduates who attended the summit, with most being from Australia.
The primary aim of the summit was to develop graduates into future leaders. The workshop included a practical application of a case study where participants had to analyse a business case in small groups, designing a solution and presenting it to the summit leaders. The main aspects covered in the programme include, among others, self-reflection and understanding, building of confidence and resilience, decision-making ability, taking into account short- and long-term goals, building of trust and networking.
The graduate summit was also an opportunity for the graduates to build their networks with senior Rio Tinto employees and with fellow graduates.
Rössing Communication team member on secondment in the US
As part of Rio Tinto’s LEAP (Learning, Empower, Assignment, Purpose) programme, the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself to me in the form of a secondment to the United States in 2017/18. At the time I had been promoted and was on the lookout for opportunities to benchmark and further develop my skills. Rio Tinto’s corporate relations office in Arizona needed some help refocusing their communication activities, and before long, I was on my way to work at Resolution Copper (RC)!
The RC project is a proposed copper mine in a town called Superior, about 70km south-east of Phoenix. Since the project is in its permitting phase, with extensive internal and external stakeholder requirements, its successful permitting and the protection of Rio Tinto’s reputation, requires sound, strategic and transparent communications.
I had the opportunity to assist with effective outreach actions to the media and local communities. I helped develop a social media programme and contributed to communication strategies and tactics that will positively impact stakeholder perceptions and relationships. I also engaged with new members of the communications team.
A highlight for me was representing the RC project director at a networking event of the southern Arizona mining forum in Tucson, where we delivered a project overview. Another special moment was going down Shaft 10 – which will eventually be the deepest in the US – to do a photo session with the underground teams. The experience provided me with opportunities to learn new skills and pursue new career pathways. Reflecting on it, I strongly support the view that workforce development is most effective when 70 per cent is on the job, 20 per cent is through exposure and 10 per cent through classroom learning.
(Contributed by Botha Ellis)