The Western Limb Team

Western Limb’s objective is to become the premier platform for information about creating alternative sustainable livelihoods for people in the Western Limb platinum mining region, and to serve as a model for other mining regions.  Western Limb focuses on community engagement, academic research, and film music and the arts.

In this blog post members of the Western Limb team provide some background about themselves and what they see is possible for the Western Limb, and what needs to be done.

Leon Gerber – Rio Tinto Research Fellow at the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy at the University of Dundee


I am a multi-disciplinary mining policy and legal specialist, and a qualified Advocate of the High Court of South Africa. I previously worked in the private legal industry, with a diverse client base that included corporate clients and major mining companies. I have consulted and collaborated on various public and private sector HSE matters related to the mining industry, including on-site legal audits, and comparative law and policy assessments of various sub-Saharan African countries on behalf of clients.

At present, I am the Rio Tinto Research Fellow in the Mining Group of the CEPMLP at the University of Dundee, UK, and my research interests include regional and national policy implications for the mining sector; political risk and project finance in the extractive sectors; resource nationalism; responsible value-chain management; and artisanal and small-scale mining.

To me, one of the more interesting aspects of the Western Limb project is how closure of existing operations will be dealt with in the region.  International good practice has evolved away from the notion of simple abandonment of sites and communities at the end of operational lifespan; rather trends are moving towards ensuring a sustainable social, environmental and economic legacy for the respective sites, as well as local communities affected by operations. As such, ideally contemporary mining activities are planned according to a ‘design-for-closure’ concept.

However, given the general maturity of operations in the Western Limb region, coupled with the fairly recent development of the concept of ‘design-for-closure’, most local operations were not designed in terms of this concept. Consequently, the question arises how we can best make use of the time available to foster and preserve an effective social, environmental and economic legacy in the region.

In addition, the Western Limb project has the potential to provide a unique insight into future case studies given the mature nature of many of South Africa’s existing mines.

Neels de Klerk – Owner / manager Eye Opening Productions


I am a video producer and photographer and the owner of Eye Opening Videos (www.eyeopeningvideos, a video production company specializing in the mining and process related industry as well as the field guiding industry.

I have done work for many of the leading mining companies in the Western Limb region.  I have a passion for bringing the story behind platinum to the world and on 8 September 2009 I launched The Story of Platinum, with the collaboration, input and assistance of international experts and scientists in this field.

The Story of Platinum is the first comprehensive review of the platinum industry and covers the complete history of platinum, the geology of the bushveld complex, different mining and production processes and the various applications of platinum around the world.

I am interested in the Western Limb project because it brings together a diverse group of people with different backgrounds, and with a plan, could make a big impact just through the actions of ordinary people who are interested in creating something new.

Kevin Williams – Counsel at Steptoe & Johnson

Kevin Williams -16I  set up Western Limb shortly after the tragic events at Lonmin’s  Marikana Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa in August 2012 in which 44 people were killed (’_strike).

I grew up in mining towns, and seeing over the course of my life the dramatic changes to some of the mining towns that I grew up in, Randfontein and Virginia, has me interested in what we can do now to create sustainable, alternative livelihoods for mining communities.

After graduating from Wits and after a stint teaching English in Taiwan, I practiced mining law (along with regulatory, constitutional, administrative and international law) at Webber Wentzel.  I came to the UK to study a Masters in International Law, and love living in London.

What inspires me about Western Limb is the opportunity to look at better communication between all stakeholders and a plan for the future.  And a chance to look at what is actually possible for the future of this area.

Grant Mitchell  –  Independent Mining Policy and Development Consultant


I began my mining career in 1985 when I was employed as a Senior Researcher at the Chamber of Mines Research Organization, where I was involved in research into industrial relations issues, skills development and health and safety.  In 1997, I joined the Minerals and Energy Policy Centre (MEPC) as a Senior Policy Analyst. The MEPC was an NGO set up by Cyril Ramaphosa to assist the newly elected government with a new mining and energy policy for South Africa. During this period I was involved in the development of the Green and White papers on a new mining policy. In 1998 we workshopped the Green Paper in mining affected communities in nine regions of the country and our submissions were considered by government in the drafting of the new Act (MPRDA, 2002). I also managed a multi stake process in the Northern Cape looking to mining/ community cooperation. During this period I spent three weeks in Canada on a study tour and met with government officials and industry leaders on issues around mining and community sustainability. I was the skills facilitator for small scale mining (artisanal) at the Mining Qualifications for seven years and am still involved in the development of qualifications and learning materials for this sub sector. From 2002 onwards I helped set up the Junior mining association and was involved in research into all the key mining policies developments, including the Mining Charter.

In 2010 I was employed by the Chamber on a consultancy basis to research and liaise with the national government on mining companies’ Social and Labour Plans. Earlier this  year I conducted a research study into the Social and Labour Plans of a sample of 14 mining companies in the gold and platinum sectors.

I have published extensively mainly in the area of sociological issues around mining, policy development/analysis and its impacts, and in industrials relations in mining. I hold two post graduate qualifications: in Social Policy from the London School of Economics, and a Masters in Industrial Sociology (a thesis on worker participation in the gold mining sector) from the University of Kwa Zulu Natal.

I believe that this is an important initiative and I am pleased to be able to contribute my experience in dealing with mining policy issues.  I believe that there is an urgent need for us to find workable model for mining community development to ensure a sustainable future for the Western Limb.

Nomathamsanqa Rangwaga – aspiring filmmaker


I am a young aspiring filmmaker who was raised in a village called Mosenthal which is part of the Royal Bafokeng Nation.  My first encounter within the film industry was in 2011 where I studied Television Production, Film Producing as well as Costume Make up and Style. Although I was unable to complete my studies, I later on I interned for a community station called Soweto TV and moved on to the set of IDOLS season 8 as a production assistant.

Volunteer work has always featured in my agenda, since helping out at a community crèche in Phokeng.  I then offered my services at Lebone II College of the Royal Bafokeng as a librarian assistant. I also facilitate a film club as well as being part of the organising team of the Lebone Leadership Festival. Apart from working, I am also studying a Degree in Communication Science and Education as well as establishing my own production company called Mmamontsho Productions.

Having to live within the Western Limb region for more than 9 years has made me realise how a lot of community members rely on the mining industry, but are unaware of its depletion. Western Limb gives us an opportunity to not only create an opportunity to assist in changing the perception of the community, but also aid them with other skills to make the self sufficient in other aspects and less reliant on mining.

Jonathan Veeran – Partner in the Africa Mining and Energy Projects Practice at Webber Wentzel


I am a partner in the Africa Mining and Energy Projects Practice at Webber Wentzel.  I have expertise in transaction structuring in the mining and upstream oil & gas industries.  In addition, I have advised on various large black economic empowerment mining transactions in South Africa and other African jurisdictions including Zimbabwe, Ghana, Guinea, Mozambique and Madagascar.

I advise various international companies (NYSE, LSE, ASX, TSX and AIM listed) on their business activities in Africa and, in particular, the regulatory aspects of the mining, upstream oil & gas, domestic and international payment systems.  He has extensive experience in developing structures which afford international investors protection under bilateral investment treaties as well as other instruments under international investment law.

I have advised several mining companies and governments on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative’s international best practice models and contributed to the International Bar Association’s Model Mine Development Agreement Project. I also serve on the Webber Wentzel team that was appointed to advisory panel of the World Bank’s EI-TAF project.

I have a particular interest in employee and community ownership schemes in mining projects as well as mining community development. The Western Limb Project presents a unique opportunity to contribute to the sustainable development of mining communities and use this engagement to develop bespoke initiatives in other mining communities.

Meisha Robinson – marketing, strategy and business development professional
Meisha Robinson is a marketing, strategy, and business development professional.  Meisha currently works in brand management and new product development for a multinational, fast moving, consumer goods company.   She received an M.B.A. in Marketing from New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business.
Committed to service, Meisha served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin, West Africa teaching and consulting small businesses in the areas of marketing, accounting, and business management.  Recently, she also served in South Africa as a Marketing Manager for Special Olympics South Africa, supporting the 2012 Special Olympics Africa Unity Cup. Her service in South Africa granted her the opportunity to engage with the youth of the Rustenburg area and witness first hard the challenges the youth face pursuing their dreams.  She believes, “the Western Limb Project is a catalyst for the youth of the region to fulfill their dreams.  It will help bring opportunities beyond mining–expanding the horizons of what is possible for a Western Limb youth to achieve.”


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