For specialist mining solutions provider Fraser Alexander, ESG compliance is a lot more than adhering to industry standards and company policy. Rather, it is embedded in the company’s culture.
COO BONGANI BUTHELEZI explains to GERARD PETER how this approach is ensuring that all employees play a role in ensuring responsible and sustainable mining operations.
Buthelezi starts by explaining that for Fraser Alexander ESG compliance starts at a boardroom level and this filters down to the rest of the company. “ESG forms part of the performance scorecard of the executive and this is then cascaded down to the various levels of management to ensure that compliance is measured at all levels of operations,” he states.
While scorecards provide a good indication of how each of the company’s divisions are faring when it comes to ESG compliance, Buthelezi points out that putting such markers in place goes far beyond measuring performance. Instead, it is part of the company’s narrative in every activity that it is involved in. For example, ESG is a key fundamental at Fraser Alexander’s roadshows that it organises on a regular basis.
Furthermore, Buthelezi states that its commitment to sustainable mining that benefits all is a key factor when it comes to deciding which mining projects to be involved in.
“A project could be profitable but if it is against the values we believe in when it comes to the environment or social issues, then we opt not to be a part of that project despite its profitability. Fortunately, the majority of the clients we work with are firm believers in ESG compliance,” adds Buthelezi.
When it comes to the environment, Buthelezi points out that technology is playing a huge role in ensuring that operations are carried out in a more sustainable manner. A case in point is the machinery that Fraser Alexander’s Mining Division uses for mining tailings dams.
“Currently, the hydraulic guns that are used in the processing of tailings uses diesel. However, we are currently in discussions with OEMS to transition from diesel to battery electric. Not only will this be more economical but it will also be less harmful on the environment.
Uplifting its own workforce
Without doubt, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic had a considerable impact on mining operations and Fraser Alexander was not spared. Buthelezi explains that this had an impact on employees as well as communities. Subsequently, the board of directors, executive team and employees at all levels contributed towards a fund set up by the company to help those who were impacted financially by the pandemic. The campaign raised closed to R400,000 and the money was donated to affected stakeholders. In addition, Fraser Alexander also donated food parcels to various communities where it operates.
Furthermore, the company remains committed to good corporate governance. “Fraser Alexander is run as if it is a listed company. In this way, we ensure that we always operate in a transparent and ethical manner,” Buthelezi adds.
Finally, Buthelezi emphasises that the company’s ESG policy is not just to ensure compliance to government and industry regulations but rather to ensure that mining can make a meaningful impact on the socio-economic well-being of all citizens. “For example, South Africa has a high unemployment rate and the earlier companies get involved in addressing this issue, the greater the impact will be. And it is not just about compliance; it is the right thing to do,” he concludes.