Mining Indaba 2014 – What does it mean for the Western Limb
Thursday 6 February 2014
A big week
I am in the domestic departures lounge of Cape Town International Airport, almost exactly six days since I arrived.
I have interviewed two lawyers, a political activist, a community engagement specialist, a senior trade unionist and mining economist. I’ve written six blog posts, had about forty conversations about the Western Limb project, handed out about a hundred pamphlets, sent hundreds of e-mails and texts, gone to two lunches, three dinners and one cocktail party, and participated in a three hour strategic vision and mission session to determine the vision and mission of our organisation.
Almost all of this activity was directed towards creating a prosperous, healthy community in the Western Limb, beyond mining. I have had a ball, and it has been very satisfying.
A new conversation
I started working on these issues eleven years ago as a candidate attorney in Johannesburg, when South Africa’s Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act had been passed by Parliament and there was uncertainty as to when it would be brought into effect by the President, the Mining Charter was a year old, and the Royalty Bill had just been dropped on a shell-shocked industry.
This is the conversation I have been wanting to have about the industry for a long time. And almost everyone I have spoken to this week is keen to talk about it and start looking at what we can do together.
As one of the folks I interviewed said, there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.
But when I woke up this morning, I did not want to have any more conversations about the Western Limb or mining. I am full. Looking around me in an airport lounge full of people who have been at the Indaba, folks look a little fatigued.
Come down pleasurably
Last October I returned from Washington DC where I was involved in a significant investment treaty arbitration against an African State. The stakes were high for both parties. It was months of intense preparation. When I returned to London two days after the last witness had been cross-examined, and the boxes of trial bundles shipped back, a friend gave me some great advice. Come down pleasurably.
I took her advice and slept late, hung out with friends, went to yoga classes and watched films.
I have several friends who are personal and professional development coaches, and much of their work centres around energy, and how to use it to be more effective. When you have had a period of intense activity and intention, they advise that you make time to come down pleasurably. Give yourself room to alchemise everything that has happened. There is a danger if you don’t. Because you will come down from that peak one way or another. Other ways to come down include crashing your car, or picking a fight with your partner. If you notice it, you have a choice about how to handle that landing.
Mines are places where the work is hard and passions run high, and frequently boil over. The options for coming down pleasurably are pretty limited. Maybe this is something to work on, making sure its an environment where people can come down pleasurably when you have been operating at the limit of their physical and mental abilities.
And now its time for a milkshake and a bit of reading before flying to Durban for my little sister’s wedding in the Underberg. Thanks for reading my Indaba blogs. I have enjoyed writing them!