Towards a positive legacy
The economic landscape of South Africa is changing and this is leading to a constant downward trend in some parts of the mining industry, such as the gold mining industry where jobs have declined. On the other hand, energy projects require employment while mine land rehabilitation can unlock land value.
Online toolkit for developing sustainability
The Community-Based Renewable Energy Project has developed an online toolkit that facilitates the development of sustainable and bankable projects. Launched by Promethium Carbon, together with Harmony Gold, and funded by the British High Commission, the toolkit focuses on projects that will generate renewable energy, rehabilitate mining impacted land and create jobs.
Launched during a function at the Chamber of Mines (the Chamber) in Johannesburg, the project integrates the three challenging issues of mine land rehabilitation, community development and energy pressure alleviation.
Turning a negative into a positive
“Land rehabilitation and community development is part of the mining landscape. There are legacies we have to address and we need to do this through sustainable ways,” says Roger Baxter, CEO of the Chamber.
The project is aligned with the objectives of the Chamber in this regard. “It demonstrates how a negative can be transformed into a positive and provides a long-term sustainable solution. It also creates synergy with the communities dealing with the environmental impact,” he says.
Peter Boxer, deputy British high commissioner, adds to this, saying that mining has given so much to South Africa and it will continue to do so with projects such as these; thus leaving a positive legacy.
Combating energy poverty
“Apart from this, we want to combat energy poverty. It is fundamental for communities to have access to energy and to prosper and while the government plays a role here, it is also the responsibility of the private sector to engage with communities. The opportunity to replace non-renewable energy with renewable energy and at the same time rehabilitate the land is an exciting one that also offers socio- and economic upliftment.”
The project benefits include economic alternatives for a post mine life, improved energy security, the creation of employment opportunities, mitigation of climate change and re-education of environment, reduction of environmental and health impacts and enabling the local government to support communities, says Robbie Louw from Promethium Carbon, adding that these address 14 of 17 global sustainable development goals.
Land management imperative
Professor Wayne Truter, a land rehabilitation, rangeland and forage specialist affiliated to the University of Pretoria explains that land rehabilitation is a vague term. “We have to understand the land, how capable it is to support the system and then what the land use can provide to the community. Land management is imperative is the system is to be viable, as is land stewardship. This project brings this to the end land users as it gives them the tools to envision the viable opportunities it can provide.”
Rehabilitation does not happen overnight and that is why it is so important to involve the community from the start he adds.
The project recognises the role of communities as it acknowledges, uplifts, invokes, empowers and integrates communities into a workable sustainable solution says Louw. “The long-term objective of the project is to support and facilitate the development of programmes which will build on a 150-year-old mining legacy to ensure post mine life sustainability and a greener future.”