Social scientist at GCS Water and Environment Consultants Fieke de Jong is a true example of the company’s values.

A woman of diverse skills and experience in many fields, she is committed to each project she works on as well as ensuring a sustainable environment within mining.

She is willing to take on any challenge and providing the most practical solutions.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 8, 2019
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De Jong holds an MSc in international development studies as well as an MA in conflict, security and development. She is an interdisciplinary researcher with a background in social sciences as well as environmental and water management.

She hails from the town of Zutphen in the Netherlands where she completed her undergraduate degrees and finally completed her MSc research in South Africa for the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

During this time De Jong grew to love South Africa and thrives on implementing her theoretical knowledge field. She returned to South Africa in November 2011.

De Jong has been working for GCS since 2015 and has over eight years of experience in the field and has assisted in compiling social impact assessments and social and labour plans during this time.

In 2016 GCS was awarded with the Belfast implementation project resettlement action plan together with the implementation, monitoring and livelihood restoration plan.

She took on the challenge and conducted it according to international best practice standards.

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Her passion for people was well received by the project team community where she has gained their trust and her dedication to the community was celebrated when the resettlement community finally received the keys to their new houses.

During the resettlement process De Jong physically assisted the families to move into their new homes.

She has since taken on another crucial role as independent environmental controls officer, overseeing the environmental aspects of the construction of the new Belfast coal mine.

Her commitment to regulatory compliance and her passion for the environment is evident in the innovative ways she has mitigated potential environmental impacts on site – using for example her Dutch heritage and finesse to design, construct and place can catchers all over site to eliminate litter and assist with general housekeeping.

She works together with the onsite engineers as an advisory role in terms of constructing stockpiles and stormwater management structures in compliance with the various licenses and management plans.

She likes to get her hands dirty and is willing to learn new skills which to date include snake handling, bee keeping and relocation of protected plant species to name a few.

“De Jong is an asset to GCS, to any project she is involved in and is an integral part of the team. Her desire for change is an inspiration not only for current and future mining and businesses but for South Africa as a whole,” says GCS MD Andrew Johnstone.

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Established in 1987, GCS Water and Environment Consultants (GCS) is an independent consultancy committed to providing professional consulting services to its clients as well as assisting them to achieve their sustainable development goals through specialist expertise in water, environment, geographic information systems (GIS), geotechnical engineering and mineral exploration.

The company boasts international experience and adheres to the international and national standards of the countries in which it works.