Q&A with the incoming Chairman of the HSSE Committee - Mike Brown

Whether on-site or in the head office, my impression is of an organisation that places a premium on the safety of its people.

A: My first impressions are of a disciplined and committed team. From my discussions, it’s apparent that everyone is aware of the direction the company is going in and the challenges it faces, but more than that, they understand their role in the business’s turnaround and are committed to doing what they can to assist. I think this indicates a level of ownership and accountability that makes me optimistic about our future.

A: I’ve always believed that safety is more than a set of rules – it’s a mind-set. For safety programmes to be effective, they need to be continuously refreshed and reinvigorated to ensure that awareness of risks remains in the forefront.

From what I've seen thus far, Gem Diamonds is committed to ensuring safety awareness is an ingrained aspect of company culture. Whether on-site or in the head office, my impression is of an organisation that places a premium on the safety of its people.

For example, while on-site, I was gently reminded to maintain three points of contact as I was going up the stairs. Precisely the same thing had happened to me at the Johannesburg office the week before. So, I was impressed to see the culture that runs throughout the company.

It’s also great to see the number of incidents that are getting reported. I’ve seen historically that there’s an inverse correlation between the volume of incidents reported and the number of actual injuries that occur. This will go a long way to keep us on top of real safety concerns and in keeping employees safe.

Looking ahead, I would like to see us thinking creatively about how we achieve zero harm. Thanks to all for the work that’s been done to date , we have a good base to build on and I would like to see us investigating more innovative ways to keep our people safe.

A: The biggest opportunities for Gem Diamonds will come through the company’s active improvement programme and will involve reducing the cost base and improving revenue and productivity, all of which will improve profitability.

We’ve already seen some smart mine planning which will extend the life of mine by a year or two. Beyond the direct positive impact this has on our business’s sustainability, I think it’s important to remember that every additional year that the mine operates, results in an additional positive contribution to its host country and community.

We need to make sure we maximise every opportunity to create value for our business and our stakeholders.

There are numerous initiatives already in place which are realising results, so I think the company’s definitely on the right track. I'd like to encourage that momentum and add to it where I can.

From a safety perspective, I’d like to see a further reduction in incidents of any severity. The injury rate is very low compared to most mines, but there’s always room for improvement. In addition to maintaining mindfulness and a culture of safety we’ve got to continue to ensure that employees are properly skilled and trained.

There’s also work we can do to improve our use of technology to assist in safety. For example, I’d like to see fatigue monitoring being introduced where our people are operating heavy machinery.

A: Firstly, I am looking forward to working with the team in 2018. My thanks to the board, management and the entire Gem Diamonds’ workforce for their warm welcome to the team.

In particular, I‘d like to take a moment to thank Gavin for all the work he's done over the last decade. Building a safe company is not something that happens overnight. It takes years of hard work, and Gavin has been a big part of keeping that energy going.

Finally, I believe the management team have much to be proud of, particularly the progress made to transform the business, without compromising safety and health on-site. They've done a sterling job and I'd like to commend them for that.

Mike Brown
Incoming Chairman of the HSSE Committee