To maintain our social licence to operate, our communities must experience the positive impact of our operations. This goes beyond a traditional social investment approach, calling us to pursue quality partnerships that create sustainable value for all our stakeholders.


  • Optimising socio-economic benefit
  • Prioritising the development and well-being of our employees


  • US$0.8 million invested in social projects (2017: US$0.5 million)

  • US$ 159.3 million spent on local procurement (2017: US$189.7 million).

  • Zero major or significant community incidents (2017: Zero).

Related UN SDGs

Our challenges

  • Ensuring that our investments create sustainable value beyond the life of the mine.
  • Balancing growing stakeholder expectations with our continued drive to reduce costs and enhance operational efficiencies.
  • Enhancing our engagement strategies to encourage communication between our operations and our communities.

Our future

  • Continually enhancing communication and stakeholder engagement strategies.
  • Ensuring continued partnership with our PACs to support the creation of lasting mutual benefit.
  • Undertaking a comprehensive needs analysis that will inform the development of our next three-year CSI plan for Letšeng.

Material matters

Safeguarding our communities

Our context

Our operations are located in remote areas where weather can be extreme, transport routes remain a challenge and access to basic infrastructure could hamper progress. While these circumstances pose significant operational challenges, they can also threaten the health and well-being of the communities surrounding our operations.

In addition to the challenges faced by community members as a result of their natural and built environment, it is our responsibility to guard our communities against potential risks posed by our operations. For example, tailings storage dams, while an integral part of mining, also present one of the most significant potential hazards associated with the industry. Recent tragedies involving tailings dam failures have placed the mining industry under intense scrutiny, highlighting that risk management at every stage of the lifecycle of our facilities must remain of greatest priority.

Our approach

We contribute to the safety and security of our communities in a number of ways, including emergency medical care and road accident response for incidents near the mine. The mine also undertakes maintenance of roads to remote villages, ensuring safer road conditions for our PACs. Furthermore, our Letšeng mine is available to communities as a safe haven during extreme weather conditions.

We recognise that ensuring the integrity of our mining waste and fresh-water storage facilities is yet another way that we safeguard our communities. We take a proactive approach and ensure that dam safety is continually managed according to international best practice. Dam walls undergo stringent safety monitoring in the form of inspections and audits, which are conducted both internally and externally at regular intervals throughout the year. The findings and recommendations stemming from these investigations and audits are reported to the appropriate HSSE Sub-Committees and Boards.

To protect our host communities from potential dam-related hazards, we monitor three facilities at our Letšeng mine: the Patiseng tailings storage facility (TSF), the old TSF, and the Mothusi Dam – our fresh water supply resource. All facilities undergo stringent inspections on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, surveying various factors such as water level, beach length, freeboard and overall structural stability. Furthermore, an early-warning system, together with community training and awareness programmes, are used to ensure the emergency readiness of communities that could be affected in the unlikely event of a failure.

To ensure the structural integrity of our Ghaghoo facilities, we undertake annual internal inspections on the dams and regular external inspections.

Our performance

  • Zero incidents of compromised dam integrity were recorded in 2018 (2017: Zero).
  • Communication towers were constructed to improve the existing community early-warning system.
  • In 2018, the Letšengg emergency team responded to 20 emergency calls, of which 60% were motor vehicle accident related.

Our context

Lesotho is classified by the World Bank as a lower middle-income country with high levels of unemployment coupled with vast inequality and poverty. We recognise that in this context, we have a significant responsibility to contribute positively and sustainably to our PACs, even beyond the life of the mine, and believe that it is only through meaningful engagement that this can be achieved.

Our approach

Along with excellent social, economic and environmental practice, engagement is the primary means of maintaining our social license to operate.

Acknowledging the unique cultural and traditional context of our communities is essential, and we aim to engage transparently and respectfully. We have, therefore, appointed suitably qualified and trained employees to ensure this transpires. Furthermore, our operations have a framework for stakeholder consultation in place to ensure that regular, meaningful engagement occurs. We integrate the feedback from these engagements in our decision-making at operational and Group level.

The Letšeng community programmes are more advanced with a greater level of engagement than those at Ghaghoo. This is partly as a result of the maturity of the Letšeng mine, which has been in operation for many years. The level of community engagement has also, however, been impacted by the decision to place the Ghaghoo mine on care and maintenance, which resulted in significant scaling back of all investments connected with the mine. During 2018, however, we continued to engage meaningfully with the PACs surrounding the Ghaghoo mine with regard to community-related issues through on-site employees.

At Letšeng, PACs have elected community representatives who communicate with the Corporate Social Investment (CSI) department to create a sustainable and culturally effective link between communities and the mine. The community representatives sit on the CSI sub-committee of the Board, which meets quarterly. These meetings include discussions on the employment of PAC members and the effectiveness of current CSI projects. During 2019, a community needs analysis will be conducted to inform our approach to current and future community development projects.

Our performance

  • No major or significant stakeholder incidents occurred at any of our operations. Meaningful, proactive engagement with PACs continued during the year.
  • Potable water was provided to the community of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) near the Ghaghoo mine.

Our context

Operating in remote, rural locations, we recognise the critical challenge of ensuring that our operations do not threaten the well-established cultures and social structures in the communities surrounding our mines. Rather, we believe it is our duty to support the upliftment of these communities and their economic and social potential.

Our approach

We apply an informed approach to our community engagements and interventions, using information gleaned from community needs analyses and social and environmental impact assessments (SEIAs), in line with international best practice.

These assessments include extensive public participation to ensure we understand the surrounding communities and their concerns and to minimise adverse impacts while also identifying opportunities for positive outcomes.

Our SEIAs involve biodiversity surveys; soil, water and air-quality studies; archaeological surveys; visual and socio-economic impact assessments and an extensive public participation process.

Our performance

  • Zero incidents involving the violation of the rights of indigenous communities occurred.
  • Continued engagement with project-affected communities through established forums at Letšeng.
  • No major or significant community grievances were lodged.

Our context

We contribute significantly to our host countries in the form of taxes and royalties. In addition, we further safeguard our social licence to operate through direct investment in the sustainable development of our host communities. This begins with understanding our communities’ needs.

Our approach

Ensuring mutually beneficial relationships with our PACs is central to the long-term sustainability of our business. We aim to both keep abreast of compliance and legal requirements and to move beyond these, striving to make a meaningful impact and meeting the needs of our host communities.

Both of our mines have developed culturally appropriate CSI strategies. In developing these strategies, we consider the socio-economic risks, as well as the needs identified in SEIAs. We focus primarily on infrastructure development, education, health, the development of SMEs, and, where appropriate, regional environmental projects. These strategies are updated annually to reflect PAC needs.

Following the decision to place Ghaghoo on care and maintenance, we have continued to engage with our communities to secure the future sustainability of projects we have contributed to since the inception of the mine. Due to the status of the Ghaghoo mine however, CSI expenditure is limited to maintaining current investments or developing sustainable exit strategies for projects we are no longer able to support.

In addition to the projects at mining operations, our technical and administrative offices also supported projects of value to local communities.

Our performance

  • Invested US$0.8 million in CSI projects (2017: US$0.5 million).
  • Further upscaling of our dairy farm project in response to increasing demand for milk (see case study for further detail).
  • The self-sustaining Butha Buthe vegetable project continues to benefit the community.
  • Invested in infrastructural development that will assist communities closest to Letšeng mine. This included a police station that was constructed in the Phutha-lichaba village.  Additionally, a footbridge (please see the case study), classrooms and an office for local leadership were constructed in the Pae-La-ltlhatsoa village.
  • The 910 community project was formulated, which will see the initiation of a community-driven egg farming co-operative (see case study for further detail).
  Community investments by Gem Diamonds (US$ million)
2014 0.6
2015 0.6
2016 0.5
2017 0.5
2018 0.8


CSI expenditure spread in 2018

Spread of Categories
Group-wide Letšeng Ghaghoo GDL GDTS
Medical and health 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Educational projects 7.48% 8.50% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Infrastructure projects 70.51% 80.15% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Small and medium enterprise funding 8.37% 9.52% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Regional environmental initiatives 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Donations falling outside above five categories 12.70% 0.76% 0.00% 100.00% 100.00%
Other costs 0.94% 1.07% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Total 100.00% 100.00% 0.00% 100.00% 100.00%

Our context

Given the remote locations of our operations and the limited employment available for our PACs, we value localisation as a critical strategy to create shared value for our communities. By employing members of our PACs or by engaging local businesses in our supply chain, we can make a significant positive contribution to our communities while meeting the needs of the business.

Our approach

Outside of our corporate social investment, we strive to make a difference to local economies by employing members of our PACs. Where our operations are able to match available skills with on-site requirements, we recruit locally.

Furthermore, we strive to create sustainable socio-economic growth in the areas in which we operate by optimising local procurement. In this endeavour, we remain mindful of ensuring that all goods and services procured locally comply with necessary standards, and support local suppliers in meeting these requirements where appropriate.

Our performance

  • 98% of the Letšeng workforce comprised Basotho nationals (2017: 97%).
  • Group in-country procurement totalled US$ 159.3 million (2017: US$189.7 million).
  • Letšeng regional procurement totalled US$ 32.2 million (2017: US$27.9 million).