Meet our Sustainability Committee
“It is an honour to be part of a system driven by passionate and competent people, generating the funding available to support community initiatives. There is also great satisfaction and pride in celebrating the team's achievements, and I use Letšeng as an example of what can be achieved through on-site leadership. I honestly believe our management through this pandemic is the best I have seen anywhere to date, due to the efficient implementation of Gem Diamonds’ COVID-19 testing programme.”
Q: As the Chairman of the Sustainability Committee, what do you believe sets Gem Diamonds’ approach to sustainability apart from its peers?
Sustainability is entrenched within Gem Diamonds and has become a point of pride for our employees at all business levels – with buy-in from the shop floor to Board level. We use sustainability to drive business success. This was notably demonstrated in 2020 when, despite severe constraints brought on primarily by the COVID-19 pandemic and a regional drought in Lesotho, our plans were adapted to manage the critical risks that emerged to protect our business and our stakeholders.
Q: What are your goals as Sustainability Committee Chairman for 2021? What are your focus areas for the year ahead?
My goal as Sustainability Committee Chairman is to continue to deepen Gem Diamonds’ commitment to the UN SDGs. Over the years, we have continued to entrench these goals into our business, which I believe has stood us in good stead to navigate the COVID-19 crisis.
We will also continue to promote our safety awareness initiatives to entrench our culture of zero harm, and monitor the current programmes to ensure our safety performance improves.
In response to community needs, we will continue to allocate CSI funds to combat the COVID-19 challenges in our communities. In addition, we remain committed to our planned and existing CSI initiatives and the community needs analysis will be completed in 2021 to align future CSI projects to prioritised needs of our communities.
The regional drought experienced in Lesotho over the past three years had a real impact on our business and our communities. This highlights the importance of our continued monitoring of water consumption and the implementation of our nitrate bioremediation projects following the success achieved in our pilot programmes.
Additionally, we are implementing a climate change adaptation plan, and working towards integrating the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) to reflect the potential financial impact of climate change risks transparently.
“COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of the deep and enduring relationships that exist between us, our local communities and the national government in countries in which we operate. I believe these relationships have only been strengthened by joint efforts undertaken to protect our employees and communities during this past year.”
Q: You are passionate about safety protocols and processes. Please describe the role that good leadership and safety knowledge plays in Gem Diamonds’ health and safety strategy?
Our overarching objective as a Company is to ensure that everyone who works in the business remains safe and healthy at all times. In a large and technically complex operation like ours risks and hazards take many forms and it is the work of leaders to establish systems and processes to ensure that these risks and hazards can be rigorously identified and effectively managed. The best way of doing this is to engage the hearts and minds of every person in the business through the creation of a curious, trusting and supportive working culture. Finally, it is a simple but long-held truism that a safe operation is an efficient and productive operation, and in my almost 40 years in the mining industry I have never once seen the opposite to be the case.
We regard ourselves as guests in the countries in which we operate and we have sought, since the establishment of the Company, to build deep and enduring relationships with local communities and societies within which we work. The Government of Lesotho is a valued partner in our Letšeng operation. We understand our local community needs and collaborate with our local communities on the projects that are of most value to them. We have recently signed a 20-year extension to the mining lease, the extension of which ensures the operation can continue to provide a nationwide benefit for many years to come. In parallel we are constantly striving to improve the way we work, and we move quickly to embrace new ideas that emerge from international efforts in areas such as safety and health, tailings and water management, environment and biodiversity, energy efficiency and corporate governance.
“Mining operations need to be sustainable – one cannot pursue shareholder returns without ensuring that the host country and community stakeholders benefit too.”
Q: From a personal perspective, why did you elect to sit on the Sustainability Committee? Please describe any personal significance the Sustainability Committee work held for you?
As a Mosotho resident in Lesotho, I have first-hand experience in seeing the positive impact a responsible mining company can have on the surrounding community and the country as a whole. Gem Diamonds is committed, as a responsible corporate citizen, to leaving a positive legacy for the generations to come,
That’s why I’ve elected to be a part of the Sustainability Committee. I believe that Gem Diamonds' true legacy extends beyond the exceptional gems Letšeng is known for. I believe our legacy will be how each Mosotho on the street will measure the positive long-term impact created by the business. This is a legacy worth striving for, and one I want to be a part of.
Q: Please describe Gem Diamonds' approach to building mutually beneficial relationships with communities, employees and other stakeholders. What do you believe sets Gem Diamonds’ approach apart?
We take a proactive approach and view our relationships with our communities as critical for business sustainability. That’s why we strive to build relationships that are mutually beneficial and based in trust, by ensuring our communities’ needs are well understood and respected by the Company.
We have an inclusive and integrated approach to stakeholder engagement throughout the business. We start by identifying our audience, and then designing tailored engagement plans for each stakeholder group. These plans are executed by the responsible persons, using Board-approved communications methodologies, ensuring that there is oversight at Board level. I believe this inclusive approach sets Gem Diamonds apart.
“I believe it is possible to work safely in the mining industry – there should be no injuries or hurt people.”
Q: Please can you comment on Gem Diamonds’ approach to responsible mining, specifically regarding the role governance plays in safety?
Gem Diamonds is committed to responsible mining and nothing is more important than the safety of our employees. The Company has a robust system in place to ensure that policies, procedures and the associated standards remain relevant. We regularly review the overarching governance system that relates to safety. The Board sustainability sub-committee also plays a key role in reviewing standards and procedures, as well as reviewing all material safety incidents in the organisation, with the aim of ensuring that there are no repeat incidents. The governance system is used to ensure that the Company continues to strive for a safe workplace.
Q: From a personal perspective, why did you elect to sit on the Sustainability committee? Please describe any personal significance the Sustainability committee work held for you?
I sit on the Sustainability Committee simply because I have seen too many severe safety incidents in the mining industry. I believe it is possible to work safely in the mining industry – there should be no injuries and we should not hurt people. I hope my contribution, insights and experience can ensure better safety outcomes.