Mining Indaba 2014 – Wednesday 5 February

Mining Indaba 2014 – What does it mean for the Western Limb?

Wednesday 5 February 2014 

What we are doing and why

I have had a few questions via Fcebook on my previous blog posts from the Mining Indaba about what exactly we are doing in Cape Town and why.

We are filming interviews with key stakeholders in the Western Limb community representatives, labour representatives,  mining companies, government, as well as others who are knowledgable about the Western Limb, such as consultants and mining experts.

The interviews are being filmed at Webber Wentzel’s offices.  Webbers is a leading African law firm, and is where I did my training as a lawyer and practiced mining law for several years.  One of our team members, Jonathan Veeran is a Partner in their mining and energy department.  However, the initiative is a private initiative, set up by a team of individuals from different organisations in their own time.

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The interview series relates to the broader aims and objectives of the Western Limb project.  This is what our team has come up with as an interim description of our project and why we are doing it, while we work on our vision and mission statement.

Western Limb was created in 2012, as a non-profit organisation, in response to the tragedy that took place at the Lonmin Platinum Mines in Marikana, in the North West Province of South Africa.

The Project acknowledges that mineral resources are finite, and are slowly being depleted.  As such, the Project strives to be a catalyst for the creation of alternative and sustainable economic opportunities in the platinum mining region.

Western Limb’s founders believed that improving communication between key stakeholders in the region, including local communities, mining companies and the state; coupled with the creation of a collaborative long-term plan for alternative livelihoods, could prevent future incidences and leave a legacy of improved wellbeing of the communities in the region.

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We believe that this series of interviews will contribute to improved communication among the key stakeholders, and the creation of a long-term plan for the future of the area, by giving the stakeholders a neutral platform to set out their vision for the future of the Western Limb in a conversation, which is available for a resource to people in or with an interest in the future of the Western Limb (via our youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/westernlimb).

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Impressions from the interviews

What has struck me over the past week of speaking to people about the future of the Western Limb is:

– how interested almost everyone we have approached is in the initiative;

– how willing and open to participating individuals and organisations have been, though many have understandably wanted further explanation and clarification;

– how much time and effort it takes to set up a simple series of interviews.  On the one hand its simply a conversation with a camera rolling but my experience in the past week has been of a tremendous amount of running around (though I have enjoyed myself very much and had fantastic and enriching conversations with people), and that is before editing, organising and uploading the interviews;

– how few other initiatives there appear to be to bring all of the stakeholders together, and plan together for the future of the region.  The largest such initiative I am aware of  is the Mining Dialogues 360 initiative (www.miningdialogues360.co.za).  Originally formed to consider the issue of resource nationalism, it had a broad degree of participation from different stakeholders.

– how much detailed and thorough work is being done in relation to engaging with communities by some of the mining companies.  This has been ongoing for some time.  I hadn’t known about these efforts, and certainly not about the extent of them, but I am very excited to learn about it.  This will be featured in some of the interviews.

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Tomorrow is the final day of the Indaba and the last day I will be filming in Cape Town.

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