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.
An important part of that is good community relations, which is as necessary for our business success as the effective management of our operations. With this in mind, we implement long-term community development plans that focus on improvements in quality of life. In 2018, we continued successful efforts to maintain these mutually-beneficial relationships,
(Photo) Michael Hercules, education officer of Biology instructing learners during a practical session at the Otjiperongo Junior Secondary school in the Erongo Region.
Despite facing production and market challenges during 2018, Rössing Uranium remains committed to long-term stakeholder relationships that are mutually beneficial and executed in a respectful manner for both the beneficiaries and the mine. Honouring our corporate social responsibilities, we accomplished this through continued investment under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Primarily for 2018 our support has been on goal 11 Sustainable cities and communities.. Our activities are also aligned with the Chamber of Mines of Namibia's Mining Charter, Namibia's Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) and the Harambee Prosperity Plan.
In 2018, Rössing Uranium supported the Rössing Foundation and other community initiatives with just over N$13 million, of which N$12 million went to the Rössing Foundation, and N$1 million was in-kind and cash contributions to worthy community initiatives. 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.
In 2017, a policy was developed through which a review committee was constituted with a policy and governance structure that guides its actions. This committee is responsible for reviewing all requests for sponsorships and donations.
A priority area that receives due consideration each year is the safety of our employees and other road users. The mine, together with relevant stakeholders, provides inputs for consideration and possible implementation on priority projects. Social performance for Rössing is based on the premise of active partnerships with all contractors that are willing to collaborate with us.
The neighbouring town of Arandis remained a key focus area for our community activities, with a major partnership initiative implemented on the Arandis Roofing Project. The perimeter wire fence at the Arandis valve house of the Arandis Town Council was refurbished with a precast wall. The infrastructure of the valve house belongs to the council and it houses the mine’s monitoring stations for weather and dust fallout.
As part of the larger partnership between Rio Tinto and Birdlife International, the mine once again coordinated the annual Birdwatching event at the Walvis Bay Bird Paradise. In 2018, the focus was on encouraging learners from schools based in Arandis to participate in the event.
We donated emergency response equipment to the Arandis Emergency Response and Traffic Management Unit, and also supported the President of Namibia’s call-to-action by actively participating in the national clean-up campaign in May 2018. The mine was joined by contractors on site in assisting the Arandis Town Council in cleaning up the town.
We supported the regional branch of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia during the hosting of their electoral conference to elect the regional executive committee who will manage its affairs in 2019.
2018 saw the outbreak of Hepatitis E in the Erongo Region, with the informal housing sector being hardest hit. Rössing Uranium supported the regional response by proving stipends to be paid to volunteers who conducted household response in Swakopmund by providing health training sessions on good handwashing practises and food preparation in the informal settlement environment.
In addition, we supported the Trans Kalahari Corridor Management Institution with the sub-regional joint law enforcement operation. This week-long operation included law enforcement agencies from Botswana, Zambia and South Africa.
Internal and external communication activities
Informing both our internal and external stakeholders about our operations is one of the key enablers in our business success. It is the task of the Partnership, Communication and External Affairs department to implement various platforms, initiatives and activities to establish, nurture and maintain good relationships and promote the sharing of information with our stakeholders.
In 2018, a number of 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, as well as working closely on information campaigns with the Namibian Uranium Association.
A number of stakeholder engagements hosted during the year with the Namibia business community, shared information about our business performance. Other communication activities involved a variety of external stakeholders through trade and career exhibitions, while Rössing’s website presents information to a world-wide audience.
Media relations were facilitated through the management of various media enquiries which is an opportunity to create balanced coverage of our operations and business activities.
Our visitors’ programme is a key means of engaging guests from around the world. Besides members of the public, the programme accommodates specialists, academics and government officials. In 2018, we hosted 27 groups at the mine with a total of 451 visitors.
In line with our drive to promote healthy habits and support positive lifestyles in the community, we sponsored the 27th Rössing Marathon National Championship, with Swakop Striders Athletics Club hosting the event. The competitors participated in a marathon, a half-marathon introduced for the first time and a 10-km race. A 5-km fun walk was held in support of the Cancer Association of Namibia. The marathon and 10-km race attracted just more than 500 athletes, while close to 300 members of the public participated in the fun walk.
The cash and in-kind sponsorships and donations initiated through the Corporate Communication section totalled N$363,833 in 2018.