MINING companies in Zimbabwe, the small-scale mining sector included, have re-directed their corporate social responsibility (CSR) towards the fight against COVID-19.
CSR, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, is a management concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders.
As of May 31, 2020, COVID-19 has killed more than 369 000 people globally from 6.05 million confirmed cases, with Zimbabwe recording four deaths from 51 confirmed cases.
The deadly disease has significantly impacted on businesses and the economy in Zimbabwe, with the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe estimating that mineral production could plunge by 60% in the second quarter of 2020, with up to US$400 million in revenue being lost as companies reduce output due to supply chain and logistical disruptions caused by the pandemic.
Zimbabwe gets at least a third of its foreign currency income from mineral exports, mainly gold, platinum, and chrome.
To help minimise the loss, mining companies have pulled their resources together, redirecting their CSR towards the fight against the disease. The article will look at how each company has contributed towards the fight against COVID-19 using information gathered from ZELA. It will also look at gaps that need to be filled.
Murowa Diamonds, a member of the Diamond Producers Association (DPA) in partnership with the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) entered into joint COVID-19 information and knowledge sharing radio campaign targeting artisanal, small-scale miners, large-scale mining companies and communities in Zvishavane.
The campaign is focused on sensitising the artisanal and small-scale miners (ASMs) operating in the district and communities about COVID-19, measures to protect themselves and to facilitate knowledge exchange on best safety, health, and environment (SHE) practices between large-scale- miners and ASMs.
The DPA to which Murowa belongs was formed in 2015 by the world’s seven big diamond industry players, De Beers, Alrosa, Dominion, Lucara, Murowa Diamonds, Petra and Rio Tinto to reimagine the battered image of diamonds with the objective of maintaining and enhancing consumer demand, confidence in diamonds, sustainability and to share best practices between its members on employee health and safety, community relations and environmental management.
Perhaps the partnership with ZELA can be viewed as one way in which Murowa has demonstrated adherence to the DPA’s “Sustainability Commitments”.
However, at the national level, according to ZELA latest report, Murowa may need to be more visible in promoting and calling for industry-wide adoption of such voluntary responsible sourcing practices, respect for human rights, labour standards and environmental issues and other measures in the diamond industry in Zimbabwe to help create a conducive environment in the country in which it can better fulfill its commitments under DPA.
That means working together on such systems or protocols with other diamond exploration or mining companies such as ZCDC, Alrosa, and Anjin, ZELA said.
The mining company in Shurugwi reportedly donated some foodstuffs to Gweru Provincial Hospital. It identified 13 other institutions to help through the donation of foodstuffs for the next three months. The company bought a mobile clinic for COVID-19 testing and awareness.
Mimosa is reported to have donated the COVID-19 testing machines at Robert Mugabe International airport and Beitbridge Border post. However, community monitors reported that apart from the information campaigns with ZELA, there is no record of any recent donations by Mimosa to the community.
Zimplats rolled out a communication campaign that has included distributing posters and brochures and delivery of messages on social distancing through the use of loud hailers in community spaces in line with its commitment to improving the lives of its host communities.
This is an on-going exercise. Beyond this, the company has donated equipment and consumables to clinics and hospitals within communities in its areas of operation. These include screening tents, infrared thermometers, face masks, gloves, disinfectants, knapsack sprayers, containers for handwashing, and in some cases ventilators.
Blanket mine in Gwanda donated $16 million to support the fight against COVID-19 via the Chamber of Mines. Blanket Mine is also actively engaged with the local authorities to assist with a range of supplies, including the donation of more than 5 000 COVID-19 posters for awareness campaigns to the town of Gwanda and local schools, providing assistance to Mangwe District in establishing a quarantine center and donation of an assortment of PPE and hand sanitizer to the Gwanda Prison inmates to limit the spread of infection.
South Mining is a coal mining company operating in Hwange. On 24 April 2020, the company donated 15 000 face masks to traditional leaders and members of the public in Hwange.
Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe
The Chamber of Mines representing medium to large-scale miners and the Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation (ZMF) made a joint donation of US$1 million in cash and kind to government as assistance to help in preventing and containment of COVID-19.
This article first appeared in the Mining Zimbabwe June 2020 issue