The Company took a number of steps in 2008 to further its objective of becoming the partner of choice for local communities and host governments. At the heart of the approach is a focus on maximising the beneficial development outcomes of the Group’s operations at a national and local level.
Anglo American has continued to expand its award winning enterprise development programmes. Highlights include the establishment of 11 Anglo Zimele small business hubs in South African mining communities. These offer loans and mentoring to local entrepreneurs. They join the existing supply chain investment fund and a fund for junior mining companies. Together, the Zimele funds now encompass 239 businesses which are supporting more than 10,400 jobs in South Africa. Similar growth was seen in Chile, where more than 2,700 entrepreneurs, generating in excess of 3,000 jobs, are now being supported though the Anglo Emerge programme.
Anglo American’s unique and highly acclaimed Socio-Economic Assessment Toolbox (SEAT) programme continued to be a major focus of efforts to enhance social performance. More than 400 managers and people from partner organisations have now been trained in the implementation of the toolbox and assessments commenced at over 20 operations in 2008. A particular feature of the training has been participation from a wider range of professional disciplines. In addition to community development and relations staff, numerous exploration, project management, human resources and procurement staff have also participated as have about 20 NGO partners. New tools were also added during the year on managing the social issues associated with on-site contractor workforces and on respectful engagement with indigenous people.
A major milestone was reached in South Africa in November with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Anglo Platinum and the Department of Housing, which will ultimately enable the development of approximately 20,000 houses for employees. It is hoped that this will play a major role in promoting home ownership and reducing the proliferation of informal settlements, particularly around Rustenburg in the North West province.
In March 2008, the campaigning NGO, ActionAid, published a report which included allegations arising from a resettlement being undertaken by Anglo Platinum at Mogalakwena. The most serious allegation was that the mine was polluting water supplies to nearby schools. Independent scientific analysis has since proven that this allegation was unfounded. However, in response to the ActionAid allegations, the South African Human Rights Commission (HRC) launched an investigation. Although the commission found that there had been no violations of human rights on the part of the Company, Anglo Platinum nevertheless used the process to re-examine and enhance aspects of its policies and practices for community engagement. Anglo Platinum is committed to applying international best practice in the execution of resettlement.