Belfast Coal Mine handed over the Belfast Enterprise and Supplier Development Centre (BEDC) to the Emakhazeni Local Municipality. The handover forms part of Exxaro’s Social Labour Plan (SLP) commitments to improving the quality of life within host communities like Emakhazeni and beyond.

Londolani Rampfumedzi, Business Unit Manager at Exxaro Belfast Coal. Photo by BEDC

Londolani Rampfumedzi, Business Unit Manager at Exxaro Belfast Coal. Photo by BEDC

The main objective of the project is to nurture and empower SMMEs and suppliers through coaching, mentorship, and business skills development which are offered at the BEDC. When it first commenced in 2017, 21 SMMEs from the local municipality were assessed and then selected to be part of the incubation programme.

“While the global pandemic undoubtedly impacted business activities, we’re pleased that we are still able to honour our SLP commitments and further our efforts towards local economic development. We believe that a successful relationship with communities is key to our business success,” said Londolani Rampfumedzi, Business Unit Manager at Exxaro Belfast Coal.

Acceleration Programmes (LEAP) to assist with the implementation of the project. These included initial screening and selection, initial assessments, monthly mentorship sessions, back-office support, and any other services required by local SMMEs who accessed the centre daily.

The BEDC consists of a section for all walk-in users, a separate computer room, workshop room, boardroom, meeting rooms, offices, kitchen, and ablution facilities.

“This centre was built by Exxaro to change and develop the community for the better This marks a turning point in the partnership in action, as the Emakhazeni Local Municipality assumes the responsibility of managing the facility. Exxaro has played its role, the time has arrived for other mining companies operating within Emakhazeni Municipality to contribute towards the operations and sustainability of this centre” says T.D Ngwenya, executive mayor of Emakhazeni Local Municipality.

The project has already had a significant impact on the community and its people, including an average turnover increase of 313% for the 21 SMMEs, 77 new jobs created through these businesses, and eight permanent jobs created during the implementation of the centre. What’s more, the handover further provided SETA-accredited end-user computer classes for over 18 local community members valued at R584 000.

“While the impact of this particular project was far-reaching, we will always aim to better these statistics with each SLP initiative. We look forward to continuing our work with host communities to fulfill this commitment,” continued Rampfumedzi.

Exxaro is no stranger to initiatives aimed at improving social infrastructure and education, as well as promoting employment and local procurement.

In 2018, the company’s Grootegeluk mine, in the Waterberg District, Limpopo committed R58 million to establish, upgrade and replace bulk water pipelines in Lephalale to better the community’s water supply. And in 2019, Belfast committed R15 million to road rehabilitation in Emakhazeni, creating 26 jobs during construction. Exxaro’s Matla Coal Mine renovated a local soccer and rugby field to foster social cohesion and cultural development for the youth in the region.

And when Early Childhood Development (ECD) was identified as an area that required support in 2020, Exxaro invested R1.8 million towards the cause. More than 1 000 children benefitted from the intervention. Furthermore, the resources company made available R500 000 towards the renovation of Magukubjane Senior Secondary School in Limpopo after it was affected by storm damage in 2015.

Exxaro’s SLP and local economic development commitments provide some much-needed hope during these challenging times. Importantly, they reaffirm the mining leader’s vision of applying our resources to powering a better life.