Menar coal

Mining investment company Menar believes strongly that education is key to ensuring a brighter future. Through its subsidiaries, it supports numerous initiatives to uplift learners and advance their educational endeavours .

These include running educational awareness seminars, developing infrastructure for rural schools and providing them with the tools and equipment that they require as well as improving hygiene and sanitation facilities.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 6, 2020
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Menar’s subsidiaries include mining and exploration companies. They are Canyon Coal, with operations in Mpumalanga and Gauteng; Zululand Anthracite Colliery in KwaZulu-Natal and Kangra in Mpumalanga (whose operation was recently placed on care and maintenance).

Learning and supporting the community

In January this year Canyon Coal purchased a new property for the Bonginhlanhla Stimulation Centre, in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, which caters for children with physical and learning disabilities.

The company also facilitated the transfer and registration process of the property with the total cost of the project amounting to over R1.8 million.

Canyon Coal Social Labour Plan (SLP) Manager Melissa Pillay adds that the property purchased was previously used as a preschool. “The school has classrooms, toilets, indoor and outdoor play areas which made it ideal for repurposing for use by the centre,” she explains

Pillay recounts that Canyon Coal started working with Bonginhlanhla in 2015. The project formed part of the social labour plan (SLP) commitments for the company’s Hakhano Colliery. 

During this time, the school was located at the Middelburg Care Village. Funding from Canyon Coal ensured that the centre could procure much-needed support and stimulation items, such as standing and walking frames, toilet and passage rails, educational material, crawlers, toys, mats and rollers for therapy, etc. This was handed over to the school in November 2016.

However, Pillay notes, shortly after the handover, the school had to move out of the Middleburg Care Village. “Thereafter it approached Canyon Coal for further assistance, which is how this latest initiative came about.

“Education and development of children are always a priority for the company. Moreover, Bonginhlanhla caters for children that require special care, who largely come from under privileged families, which is why our support was all the more necessary,” Pillay points out.

Meanwhile, in May 2019 Canyon Coal handed over R1.45 million worth of renovated facilities to Beestepan Agricultural High School, as part of SLP initiative for Singani colliery.

The school is located in Middelburg approximately 34 km from Singani colliery. It is a no-fee public school with limited resources and caters for learners from the underprivileged surrounding communities.

Pillay explains that work on this project started in June 2017. “We were provided with a list of needs by the school’s leadership and discussed how best we could assist them,” Pillay explains.

Canyon Coal met many of the crucial needs of the school. They include extensive refurbishment of the school’s workshop by stabilising and reinforcing the structure; maintenance to the classrooms; upgrading of the girls and boys toilets; purchasing of new tools to enable the learners to safely make full use of the facility to complete all curriculum requirements, and construction of two broiler units.

Raising of chickens in the broiler units form part of the school’s academic programme. The chickens are reared by the learners and sold to the surrounding community. This helps the learners to get an introduction to market dynamics while raising income for the school.

“The inclusion of schools as part of Canyon’s SLP commitments has ensured that we can provide much needed resources that will assist in improving the teaching staff and learners education environment.

A better learning environment will make certain that the needs of the children can be met during teaching time. This is the first step to a better future for the learners which will have an impact on the development of a better South Africa,” Pillay states.

Contributing to safer learning environments

Additionally, in May 2019 Kangra provided safe temporary ablution facilities to the Qalani Primary School to ensure its students are able to learn in a safer and healthier schooling environment.

Qalani is a public school located in Saul Mkhizeville under the Mkhondo Local Municipality where Kangra is located. Previously, the ablution facilities at the school comprised of old pit latrines that would often overflow with raw sewerage posing a health and safety concern for the learners.

Principal M.G. Luthuli expressed her deep appreciation to Kangra Coal stating, “The donation of the mobile toilet units is really appreciated as they have come as a great relief to the challenging situation that learners and staff at our school are faced with.”

Furthermore, between October and November 2019, members of Zululand Anthracite Colliery’s (ZAC’s) Safety Department visited five local schools to raise awareness to the learners about some of the hazards associated with the summer season.

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The visits formed part of a joint initiative between ZAC’s Safety and Environmental departments to ensure that learners have fun during the festive season, while maintaining their safety.

The hazards highlighted included, but were not limited to, drowning, snake bites, dangers of being struck by lightning, fishing in the mine dams, the risks associated with entering the mine premises and climbing or riding on trucks while they are moving.

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Menar MD Vuslat Bayoglu emphasises, “Menar is deeply committed to assisting local communities and youth in particular, when and wherever possible. This stands at the core of Menar and the group’s subsidiaries values.”