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Partnering for sustainable development

23 August 2017

Developing strong partnerships with host communities is a prerequisite to the sustainable development of the people, the institutions and the regions where mines operate.

ICMM and our company members develop partnerships at global, national and community levels. When the United Nations adopted the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, aiming to eradicate poverty and hunger as well as protect our environment, they recognised the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are ready and willing to play our part in achieving the SDGs.

At the same time, ICMM’s Position Statement: Mining Partnership for Development commits member companies to work in partnership with development agencies, host governments, civil society organisations and local communities to enhance mining and metals’ contribution to social and economic development.

We believe that mining with principles requires making every effort to partner with government and civil society to support sustainable development in local communities.

Partnerships for development

The capacity of local government has a direct impact on the development of any given region. Partnering with businesses can help strengthen local institutions and support the delivery of public services: raising the standard of living for the region’s residents.

ICMM member company Anglo American has demonstrated how a mining and metals company can deliver long-term value to communities, by working with local institutions to strengthen their capacity. In 2014, Anglo American launched a partnership with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF) to strengthen the capacity of eleven municipalities in South Africa.

The process, managed by the DBSA, measured each municipality’s capacity in a range of areas, such as financial management and engineering. It also reviewed municipal infrastructure plans, asset management and co-ordination of the sector policies that guide provision of municipal services. Targeted development plans were then devised, and implemented to address vulnerabilities in institutions and infrastructures. Resulting improvements have, for example, led to significant savings in water and electricity across municipalities that were previously being unnecessarily lost.

Empowering entrepreneurs

Anglo American has also been proactive in partnering with government and civil society to establish a successful enterprise development initiative in South Africa. The Zimele programme comprises a national network of business hubs and walk-in centres that work towards empowering entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), particularly in rural and regional areas, by providing them with access to business assistance facilities, finance, and mentorship.

Zimele is recognised internationally as a best practice model for supporting SMEs as it effectively combines financial support and mentorship: allowing entrepreneurs to operate within the economy. This demonstrates how partnerships can have a tangible impact on local communities. Between 2008 and 2015, Zimele (which literally translates as ‘to stand on one’s feet’) supported the employment of over 38,000 people through funded businesses. Of these, 38 per cent were youths, and 42 per cent were women.

Among the businesses supported by Zimele is the ATN Group. ATN Group is a 100 per cent black-woman-owned company specialising in road marking and general civil works. In 2014, Zimele’s Community Fund gave the company a loan to expand and diversify its services; this loan is expected to allow the group to create over 100 jobs.

Benefitting local communities

Whether it’s working with local institutions to improve the delivery of essential public services or providing entrepreneurs with the tools to strive for commercial success, partnerships for development have the power to create opportunities which may otherwise have not existed: delivering long-term value to local communities, long after mining operations have ceased.

We encourage mining and metals companies to mine with principles, and to work with governments and civil society to ensure that social development programmes are well designed and effectively delivered.