Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife signs 10 year MoU with Richards Bay Minerals
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) have signed a 120 month (10 year) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) encompassing comprehensive fields of engagement and co-operation involving community upliftment, conservation education and environmental collaboration.
In what Ezemvelo CEO Dr Bandile Mkhize described as a partnership of “absolute common sense and joint engagement for a better world”, the MOU entails four major items of agreement. These include:
- RMB will assist Ezemvelo in select areas of community upliftment in traditional areas situated nearby the mining company and in other regions, if necessary
- In a spirit of “complete transparency” RBM agrees to engage Ezemvelo in all future mining plans in order that the considerations and opinions of Conservation are understood prior to undertaking the necessary Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA’s)
- Ezemvelo has granted permission for RBM to finance and construct a conference centre and specific accommodation to be called the ‘RBM Corner’ at a section of the Hilltop resort inside Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. This facility is for the exclusive use of RBM and guests for a limited time period each year, and
- RBM has agreed to finance the provincial ‘Ezemvelo Cup’ soccer and netball tournament. They will invest R1.5m per annum into the event, which will now be called the ‘Ezemvelo RBM Cup’. This highly successful annual community conservation-awareness competition, initiated by Ezemvelo some five years ago, was launched to help familiarise communities living adjacent to or nearby Protected Areas with conservation and environmental issues and thereby help in the fight against rhino poaching.
“It has been so uplifting to have reached this agreement. It is embedded in common sense and a vision that whatever our different professions, both can collaborate in enhancing the lives of rural communities as well as ensuring that development is carried out sustainably and in the interests of conservation, community welfare and mining interests,” said Dr Mkhize.
‘ Of course, I can hear murmurings that mining and conservation are not bed-fellows, that one destroys and one protects. Well, let me re-phrase this traditional, adversarial position.”
Mkhize said conservation protects as well as helps try and uplift rural community lives in order for them to appreciate the benefits conservation can bring to them and the larger human society they are part of. And mining, he said, contributes significantly to South Africa’s GDP and helps create jobs: “Put these together on a platform of genuine co-operation and transparency and we have a new engine that can realistically work towards creating a better world, a broader world than conservation on its own can influence”.
RBM MD Mpho Mothoa said the co-existence between the two disciplines was “absolutely feasible”.
“This MOU is the beginning of a very strategic partnership, of that I can assure you. I think at its core it tries to dispel thinking in silos. Dr Mkhize made it very clear to me that community upliftment was fundamental to the success of conservation. Well, community aspirations and advancement is very much in our interests too, both from our own perceived responsibilities towards our greater society as well as their appreciation of what the business of mining provides,” he said.
What was most critical, he said, was the need for both industries to really understand each other’s varying motivations.
“This MOU achieves what society is crying out for; a willing acceptance of each other’s roles and a deeper understanding of the dynamics that drives both. From this position of knowledge, we can act more responsibly and compromise where necessary. The significance of this engagement is that it will place great responsibility on both parties to articulate and explain each other’s interests.”
Both parties have formed steering committees and further engagement on specifics will commence early next year.