The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is not afraid to do business with mining companies. City Press can reveal the NUM’s property company, Numprop, is linked through housing projects to at least two mining houses, Xstrata and Harmony Gold. This is despite the fact that the union explicitly states it does not invest in the sectors in which it organises to prevent conflicts of interest. The NUM has two companies through which its investments are held: Numprop and the Mineworkers’ Investment Company (MIC). Both are owned by the NUM’s Mineworkers’ Investment Trust (MIT), in which its top officials are trustees. The trust was established in 1995 “to improve the quality of life for its members and former members, and their dependants through investment opportunities”. Numprop has a business relationship with Xstrata through the Tubatse Estate, a housing development in the Limpopo mining town of Burgersfort. Numprop is the joint developer of the estate with Commercial South African Properties. The project is believed to be worth R750 million. Housing units at the Tubatse Estate will cost between R600 000 and R1.5 million. Although Xstrata denies any involvement in the development, the MIT’s annual report for 2011 states that a tender “was issued by Xstrata in which we (Numprop) were short-listed”. Xstrata’s Christopher Tsatsawane said the company did not have any involvement in the Tubatse Estate. At its congress in May, the NUM named Xstrata as one of three candidates for the “global worst employer” award. The NUM has been under fire in the wake of the Marikana massacre for its perceived close relationships with mining houses. This is seen as one of the reasons behind the growth of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, NUM’s competitor on the platinum fields. NUM general secretary Frans Baleni, who chairs the MIT, said that although the union prevented its entities from doing business in the mining industry, this did not preclude them from investing “upstream or downstream of the industry, where the NUM does not organise”. “To prevent the inclusion of its various commercial entities from any association with mining would in effect bar these entities from undertaking any transactions, given how closely interlinked mining is with all sectors in the South African economy,” he told City Press. On the MIT’s links with mine owners, Baleni said the trust cannot dictate the investment mandate of its partners. He reiterated that mining reaches all sectors of the economy. “If we do not want any association with partners who invest in mining companies, then we would be very limited in terms of who we co-invest with,” Baleni reiterated. He said the reason for Numprops’ involvement in housing developments in mining towns was to improve the lives of members. The MIT had no reason to bar Numprop from doing business in the mining industry as this was its way of facilitating access to housing for mine workers, Baleni said. Another Numprop partnership “in the pipeline” is with Harmony Gold to convert mine hostels into family units. Numprop also intends to redevelop mining towns and has teamed up for this with Mzansi Investment Holdings. The union says Numprop doesn’t make any profit, owing to poor funding. The NUM revealed at its congress that it was investigating the possibility of the MIC taking over Numprop. Numprop also wants to turn a Humansdorp, Eastern Cape, farm into a new RDP housing development. The company provides the NUM with office accommodation and owns 10 properties valued at R74 million. The union’s head office in downtown Johannesburg is owned by Numprop.Two weeks ago, Numprop kicked out the correctional services department after it failed to pay about R1 million in rent. Parole officers had to work in the streets after being evicted. The MIC wants its investment portfolio to have a net asset value of R3 billion by next year and is targeting healthcare, renewable energy, property, retail and the telecommunications sector for future investments. The MIC further has business relationships with several firms with mining interests. Remgro, the MIC’s fellow shareholder in FirstRand, owns about 5% of Implala Platinum. WDB Investment Holdings, the MIC’s empowerment partner in FirstRand and Masana Petroleum Solutions, has interests in Kalahari Resources and Anglo Inyosi Coal. The NUM collected about R209 million from its 310 820 members in 2011.