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Doing Business, Doing Good OpEd by High Commissioner Ruchira Kamboj in the Business Day of 26 April 2018

Posted on : 01-05-2018 | Back | Print
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On 29 and 30 April, the first ever India-South Africa Business Summit will be held in Johannesburg. Bringing together key leaders from Government, led by Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation Mr Suresh Prabhu and South African Minister of Trade and Industry Mr Rob Davies and captains of industry from both countries, this will indeed be a historic gathering. Trade between India and South Africa currently sits at around US$ 10 billion, it is the aspiration that this Summit will begin the process of doubling that figure in the years to come. 

One of the significant Indian companies that will be represented at the Summit by their founder and Chairman Mr Anil Agarwal, is Vedanta Resources. 

Vedanta Resources is an LSE-listed, globally diversified natural resources company with large, long-life and low-cost assets and exploration prospects in the zinc, lead, silver, copper, iron ore, aluminium, power and oil & gas sectors on four continents. Its roots lie in India. When it listed on the London-stock exchange in 2003, it was the first Indian company to do so. In many ways, Vedanta is to India what Anglo American has been to South Africa.

Vedanta’s main market is India.  India has exceptional growth potential; both urbanization and industrialization are supported by Government initiatives on infrastructure and housing, and which are driving economic growth and demand for natural resources. The Indian parallels with Africa and, particularly Southern Africa, have led to the Group’s significant investment in Africa – more than US$4 billion in the past decade alone in South Africa, Namibia and Zambia.

Vedanta’s leadership emphasizes the need to ensure that while operations innovate, they also improve and make life better for all their stakeholders. The Vedanta approach is to do this in myriad ways. By building and running more efficient operations and optimizing the resources Vedanta has under their stewardship; by providing better and more fulfilling jobs and careers for employees; by improving the safety and health of employees and communities; by improving the ways in which the company accounts for and manages the environment in which they operate, and by making a meaningful difference to local communities. 

The ultimate intention is that, by running profitable and responsible businesses, Vedanta will deliver returns to all shareholders – including their employees – and ensure that their communities are able to thrive. Faced with a company ethic where the goal is to donate 75% of the Agarwal family  wealth to charity, Vedanta’s leadership knows that they have to deliver returns for the benefit of all stakeholders, and not only shareholders. 

In South Africa, Vedanta’s operations are based at Aggeneys in the Northern Cape province, What has come to be known as the Black Mountain Complex comprises the Black Mountain Mine (BMC) with the Deeps and Swartberg shafts and the new, world-leading Gamsberg project. 

When it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility, a holistic Sustainable Development Model and group-wide sustainability targets enable the BMC team to make a powerful contribution to the economic and social development of host communities. 

BMC has invested over R20 million in education, bursaries, health programmes, municipal fleet and infrastructure, donations, sports and culture, youth development, enterprise development and skills training for local communities to date. 

These projects have included: 

 

• The provision of medical equipment to five clinics and one community Health Centre in Pofadder, Pella, Aggeneys and Onseepkans, as well as contributing to the major upgrade of the Aggeneys Public Health Clinic. 

 

• Sponsorship of a Pink Drive cancer outreach initiative across the Khai-Ma Local Municipality.

 

• Assisting local municipalities with equipment and infrastructure – waste removal trucks and systems, road graders, fleet repairs, upgrading the Pella cemetery, and providing security upgrades for the public libraries of five towns in the Khai-Ma Local Municipality.

 

• Contributions to a range of educational and training initiatives, including the improvement of education at schools and ECD centres in Khai-Ma (reaching around 3 000 learners), Study Trust Bursaries for 13 local students, community skills development initiatives, and a youth and child care training project.  

 

• And contributions to a range of sporting and cultural activities across host communities

 

When we talk about major foreign companies investing in the South African mining sector, this is what we should be talking about. Major Capex investment (Vedanta has already spent US$400 million on Gamsberg – with the likelihood of more to come) as well as a determination to contribute positively to every aspect of the lives of the communities where they operate. We should also be talking about companies who come prepared for the long haul. 

Gamsberg is one of the largest known unexploited zinc resources in the world. It has a reserve and resource of more than 200Mt and an estimated life of mine of 30 years. Currently output is planned at 250,000 tons of zinc in concentrate per year – but Vedanta is exploring plans to increase output by another 200,000 tons to 450,000 tons per annum, and ultimately, another phase, to 600,000 tons per annum. Ultimately this could turn Black Mountain into a huge 800,000 tons per annum zinc mine.

To Vedanta, Gamsberg is more than a mine. It has the potential to trigger a new wave of industrial and economic development, for additional opportunities for Vedanta and others, in what is one of the lesser developed regions of South Africa.

There are opportunities for value-adding zinc beneficiation, the creation of a regional fertilizer industry (with further significant job creation prospects), the accelerated development of the agricultural industry, prospects for steel production (given proximity of iron, zinc and manganese mining) and potential for the development of rail and other logistical links. And this would just be the beginning. Industrial development would need additional power resources, water supply and other economic and social infrastructure requirements – all excellent investment opportunities. 

And this is just Gamsberg. One mine – but with the potential to strike a spark that would transform an entire Province. 

These are the relationships and outcomes we hope to encourage and foster through the India-South Africa Business Summit 2018. With more to follow, where Indian companies continue to do good while doing business in South Africa. 



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