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Part 5: Mine(d) Over Matter: An example of the theory put into practice

5 Feb 2020 - 15:30

In this, the last part of the Mine(d) Over Matter series, the fundamentals found in the circular economy, and restorative justice theory are embraced by the current legal tools we have at our disposal. We will consider the implementation of development plans aimed at sustainable job creation and environmental remediation. 

The implementation of any development plan would depend on how the law guides companies to initiate closing the loop of the life of the mine. As one of the current legal imperatives, the Social Labour Plan (SLP) and the Human Resources Development Plan (HRDP) contained in the SLP, would play a central role in human resource development and skills transfer into the next life of the mine – the Fibrous Future Initiative (FFI).

An HRDP is a component of the SLP which is mandated by law and drafted by the company during the application process for a mining right. The SLP is then approved by the Department of Mineral Resources and the mining right is awarded.

The HRDP plan is set to establish mechanisms for advancing individuals already employed by the mine through mentorship programmes, career progression plans and bursaries.[1]The HRDP can, therefore, prepare employees for an FFI by providing skills which could be transferred into the various stages of an FFI. Skills such as entrepreneurship, manufacturing, project management and farming would assist in transforming the skills in the labour force away from mining and into an FFI.[2]

Some amendments need to be made within the culture of mining, a change which the HRDP could facilitate.[3] For example, when downsizing or reducing the labour force, usually human resource development targets (such as bursaries and portable skills development) are reduced. Instead, a plan of action could be developed that absorbs these miners into a skills development program aimed at FFIs and post-mine rehabilitation in general, integrating the FFI into the present working of the mine. The human development targets would therefore increase, or at least remain the same, rather than being reduced which is currently the case. This shift would be an acknowledgement of the role the mining company plays in establishing a sustainable life of the mining community dependant on the mining industry.

These skills could be designed to specifically facilitate rehabilitation and downstream processing of fibrous plants.[4]The labour force required for a successful FFI would be trained and living in and around the mine. This, however, would require foresight from the beginning of mining activities, or at least before retrenchments occur as the mine starts to wind down.

To further develop the FFI as a potential rehabilitation plan, the HRDP has an interesting role to play. Connections between the retrenchments and potentially absorbing the ‘redundant’ labour into an FFI’s could be encouraged by existing tax incentives. The company can register a leadership or other development programme, with the relevant Sector Education Training Authority (SETA). 

In the case of FFI, SETA’s such as the Mining Qualifications Authority, the Manufacturing Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority, and the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing Sector Education and Training Authority, would assist in authorising training plans for employees to enter an FFI. Once an employer is registered with the SETA, there is an associated SARS tax break. An example of such an incentive is the Learnership Tax Incentive.[5] The learnership requires a clear formal learnership contract[6] to qualify for SETA authority.[7]

Therefore, the objectives of human resource development can be designed in such a way to facilitate a fibrous future after mine closure. Skilling the employees in portable competencies external to that of mine activities is an active objective of a social labour plan.[8] However, there is room to be more specific regarding these portable skills. The skills ought to be designed in such a way that contributed to the rehabilitation of the mine, in both the environmental sense as well as establishing economic well-being in the community after closure. There are existing legal tools and incentive to further the ideals of an FFI, all that is needed is an investment to putting mine(d) over matter and changing the way an industry sees its place in the world.

Written by Aysha Lotter.

 

[1] MPRDA, reg 46(b). Prior to the closure of a mine, the mining company must give effect to the educational programmes as stipulated in the SLP. The envisaged effect of these programmes is a lowering of unemployment rates in the surrounding community by equipping its members with skills that may be used elsewhere once the mine closes.  

[2] Harrison S T L., Rumjeet S., Mabasa X., Verster B., “Towards Resilient Futures: Can fibre-rich plants serve the joint role of remediation of degraded mine and fuelling of a multi-product value chain?” Unpublished. (2019) University of Cape Town; Allen C., Bhorat H, Hill R, Rooney R, and Steenkamp F “Building economic complexity in the South African fibrous plant economy” Unpublished. (2019) University of Cape Town; Broadhurst J, Chimbganda T and Hangone G “Identification and Review of Downstream Options for the Recovery of Value from Fibre Producing Plants: Hemp, Kenaf and Bamboo.” Unpublished (2019) University of Cape Town; Mostert H, Paterson A, Young CL, van Schalkwyk L “Innovations in Mine Rehabilitation - The Two Sides of the Law: An exploratory study of enabling mechanisms in the law for using fibrous plants in mine land rehabilitation” Unpublished (2019) University of Cape Town.

[3] Mostert H, Paterson A, Young CL, van Schalkwyk L “Innovations in Mine Rehabilitation - The Two Sides of the Law: An exploratory study of enabling mechanisms in the law for using fibrous plants in mine land rehabilitation” Unpublished (2019) University of Cape Town.

[4] Harrison S T L., Rumjeet S., Mabasa X., Verster B., “Towards Resilient Futures: Can fibre-rich plants serve the joint role of remediation of degraded mine and fuelling of a multi-product value chain?” Unpublished. (2019) University of Cape Town; Allen C., Bhorat H, Hill R, Rooney R, and Steenkamp F “Building economic complexity in the South African fibrous plant economy” Unpublished. (2019) University of Cape Town; Broadhurst J, Chimbganda T and Hangone G “Identification and Review of Downstream Options for the Recovery of Value from Fibre Producing Plants: Hemp, Kenaf and Bamboo.” Unpublished (2019) University of Cape Town.

[5] Income Tax Act No. 58 of 1962, s12H; South African Revenue Service Guide on the Tax Incentive for Learnership Agreements Legal and Policy Division 2008.

[6] ‘registered learnership agreement’ is defined as one which is: registered in accordance with the Skills Development Act, 1998; and entered into between a learner and an employer before a date specified in the Income Tax Act.

[7] The incentive is regulated by section 12H of the Income Tax Act No. 58 of 1962.

[8] Department of Mineral Resources, Guideline for the Submission of a Social and Labour Plan As Required in Terms of Regulation 46 of the Mineral and Pertoleum Resources Development Act (Act 28 of 2002)Government Gazette, 2010 at 8.