Mining giant Anglo American on Tuesday announced what it calls an Impact Catalyst for sustainable economic development in Limpopo.
The multi-sector initiative will be run in conjunction with the coal miner Exxaro, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), World Vision International and the government of Limpopo.
Andile Sangqu, executive head of Anglo American in South Africa, told Fin24 ahead of the launch that the Impact Catalyst forms part of the company's Collaborative Regional Development (CRD) programme. It is in line with Anglo's Sustainable Mining Plan and approach to future "smart mining".
Impact Catalyst will identify socio-economic development opportunities with the greatest potential in the region through spatial planning and analysis. It will work with a broad range of stakeholders including community representatives, faith groups, businesses and entrepreneurs, government, academics and NGOs.
"Many of the opportunities and issues are just too complex for any single institution to achieve alone. We must work together to achieve the scale of development needed. " Sangqu told Fin24.
He said several feasibility studies and pilot programmes are already underway in Limpopo. Sectors identified as having good potential to explore for the project include integrated game farming, agriculture, agro-processing and biofuels, waste recycling as well as social project opportunities on community health.
Other projects currently in the pipeline for the Impact Catalyst include a wide-ranging enterprise and supplier development programme. The aim is to create small businesses that supply goods and services to mines and businesses.
"Creating sustainable development opportunities in the communities in which we operate is at the crux of what we do. We want to empower these communities to achieve long-term economic prosperity," said Sangqu.
For him the role of the CSIR in the project is especially important in relation to suitable skills development among young people.
It is about creating economic opportunities for communities away from mining. He told Fin24 that, once the project has been well established and passed its teething process, Anglo will consider potentially expanding it to other parts of the country as well.
"The roll of business is not merely to make profit but about creating a sustainable environment and for business to be sustainable in the long run. That involves the need for us to make sure the community around us is also sustainable," concluded Sangqu.