Nababeep, Northern Cape: Transformation in the resources sector must be contemplated from a perspective of holistic inclusion said Copper360 chair Shirley Hayes.
The copper producer this week launched a project to develop a white paper specifically to measure current levels of inclusion in the mining and resources sector. The intent is not only to trouble shoot but to interrogate potential solutions that could overcome hurdles preventing full integration of genders and people with disabilities into the sector.
Hayes said: “Not enough is being done in terms of inclusion, and transformation also means more than redressing injustices of the past. It also means addressing inequalities that people still experience every day, particularly in areas like resources.” She said that not enough was being done in the sector to ensure inclusion.
The White Paper on Inclusion will be shaped as a study and headed by former Ms. Wheelchair South Africa Tamelyn Bock, a Nababeep local with Copper360’s ESG officer Jennifer Barnard. Hayes said that the study, expected to take several months, will be published in the third quarter of 2023.
Hayes said that role players in the resources sector are welcome to join in and extended an open invitation. She said: “This is about all of us and is for everyone.”
Hayes said: “This is a project that aims to benefit all role players in the resources sector, from copper producers such as us through to mining giants. We all need to take heed of inclusion on a greater scale than what has been the case until now.”
Hayes lists people with physical disabilities as a particular focus. She said: “When I looked at our own infrastructure, I realized that it must be incredibly unfriendly for anyone facing a physical challenge, visitor or potential employee. And while not every aspect of an industrial operation may be conducive to rehabilitate into a friendlier environment, a lot of it can be.”
Tolerance and understanding, said Hayes, is also an important touch point of an inclusive oriented business. And that means working toward a culture of non-discrimination across the board. She said: “There has been little work done on gender or gender identity in what has traditionally been seen as more of a man’s world. What must happen now is to open up and welcome everyone, of any persuasion, belief, or identity, and ensure that equal opportunity in the resources sector extends beyond colour, creed, gender, ability or disability. It is our responsibility to level the playing field.”
It all starts with culture, and leadership. And Hayes believes that the Inclusion White Paper will dissect and unpack this appropriately. Then, his intent is to implement Bock and Barnard’s findings across Copper360. She added: “I will also agitate the rest of the industry to do the same.”
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Copper360 is leading a new generation of companies that subscribe to the United Nations Development Goals ethos by leveraging the principles of a circular economy, focusing on People, Planet and Profit.
The company focuses on the restoration of the natural habitat in South Africa’s Northern Cape town of Nababeep, where twentieth century copper mining negatively impacted an ecologically sensitive environment.
Through the development of its own technology, the firm has commenced recycling previously dumped or and mining waste to produce premium grade copper. This is done through a technologically advanced metallurgical process that delivers commercial viability while restoring the original landscape.
Copper360 is also philosophically bound to core principles of the United Nations Development Goals and, after launching operations in November 2021, plans to engage with the community in revitalising aspects the local socio-economic environment, decimated when mining operations ceased a decade ago, on a sustainable basis.