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Projects Making a Difference

Four projects highlight how a South African mining company delivers positive social impact.

Leaders at Tharisa plc want their mining exploration projects to not only be good for the bottom line, but also for the communities where they operate. As part of the company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy, leaders have launched a wide range of initiatives designed to do everything from cut carbon footprint to create new jobs at its mine in South Africa.

Here are four projects highlighting how the South African mining company aims to deliver positive social impact.

> Solar Energy Farm

Looking to decrease its carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030 and become net carbon neutral by 2050, Tharisa is adding solar power to its energy mix. The company started with a project to fully power the control room at Tharisa Mine with energy from photovoltaic panels. And this year, it agreed to partner with energy company Total Eren to develop a solar energy farm at the same mine. 

The solar facility is “one of several steps we are taking to ensure our flagship Tharisa Mine—which has a life of mine of over 50 years—has a reduced carbon footprint,” says Tebogo Matsimela, head of ESG, Tharisa, Johannesburg.

> Bee Relocation

Bees keep the world’s fragile ecosystems humming, and when their environments are disrupted, it can have a staggering ripple effect on industries like agriculture. To ensure workers at Tharisa Mine don’t harm the local bee population, the company’s safety team leaders launched a project to create onsite boxes that attract and capture bees. The insects are then relocated to beekeeping farms in the community—helping boost raw honey production and pollination of crops.

> Community Education

When organizations share their environmental knowledge with community members, it not only helps educate critical stakeholders but can build long-term buy-in that can fuel future initiatives. For example, before the pandemic, environmental leaders at Tharisa initiated an in-person learning session at Machadam Secondary School. As part of an International Day for Biological Diversity event to raise awareness on air, food and water quality, they talked with students about biodiversity threats and how everyone can play a role in mitigating those risks.

> Machine Learning

Most massive mining equipment runs on old-school fuel, but Tharisa is aiming to sharply reduce the amount of greenhouse gases their machines emit. In March, the company unveiled plans to begin testing new diesel hybrid equipment. The 18-month pilot project is designed to assess whether the vehicles, made by project partner Liebherr, can power through the rugged terrain and maintain the company’s goals for operating efficiency. 

“Like all our other partners, we constantly challenge them to come up with innovative, cost-saving and environmentally friendly solutions,” Matsimela says.

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