Mining companies should contribute to communities

Monday, August 17, 2009

Port Edward - Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has called on mining companies to make a positive contribution to communities across the country.

Speaking at the opening of a R1 million Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre in KwaNzimakwe in KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend, Minister Shabangu said all mining companies were required to plough back into communities some of the profits they made fom the country's mineral wealth.

"The Department of Mineral Resources is the custodian of all mineral rights in South Africa and when we grant a company a licence to mine the wealth of our country, that company has to table a Social and Labour Plan.

"These plans require that companies invest in and improve the conditions of communities in the areas where they operate," Minister Shabangu said.

The Princess Nombuso ECD centre is a public-private partnership between the Department of Mineral Resources, Natal Portland Cement and the Hibiscus Coast Municipality.

The minister said the Princess Nombuso project was a model for ECD centres and showed what was possible if government and the private sector joined forces in the interest of communities.

She said the opening of the centre was part of the programme of government to establish an early childhood education system that spanned both the public and private sectors, adding that such centres would give children a much-needed head start in numeracy and literacy.

"Future generations of mining engineers and geologists must come from previously disadvantaged communities.

"That is part of why we fought for democracy in South Africa, to give children the chance of achieving what they could only dream of before and I am confident that this ECD centre and others like it will help to eventually produce the skills our country needs," Minister Shabangu said.

The centre was built after the old cräche burnt down in September 2008 due to an electrical fault. Inkosi (Chief) Nzimakwe of the KwaNzimakwe community asked the department to assist the community to rebuild the cräche.

Natal Portland Cement agreed to incorporate the building and upgrade the old cräche into their Marburg quarry's social and labour plan.

Instead of the small cräche, the community now has a modern complex, accommodating up to 60 children from ages one to seven. The centre has a kitchen, bathrooms and beds. .

Minister Shabangu noted that the centre would nurture young children of the community to be not only its leaders, but leaders of the country as a whole.

The centre will be run by the Department of Social Development, which is responsible for ECD centres.