Anglo American aspires to be a global leader in sustainable mining and is illustrating this in a pioneering way at this year’s Mining Indaba. The company has built a ‘stand that grows’, which is essentially a living tree that showcases its Sustainability Strategy. This visual metaphor was taken a step further as the 400 fruit and vegetable plants were donated to a community food garden at the Beacon School for Learners with Special Educational Needs in Mitchells Plain on the Cape Flats.
The school was identified as a suitable beneficiary by Soil for Life, a non-profit organisation that teaches people how to grow healthy, organic vegetables, and with which Anglo American has partnered many times.
Pranill Ramchander, Anglo American South Africa’s’ Head of Corporate Communication, says that this initiative is rooted in the company’s purpose, which is also its theme for Mining Indaba 2019. This purpose is to re-imagine mining to improve people’s lives.
“We’ve brought our purpose to life by showcasing our Sustainability Strategy. The stand design resembles a tree, which is traditionally known to be a meeting place in some communities in South Africa. The tree is also a metaphor for sustainable growth, and a symbol of a healthy environment. We hope that our contribution will inspire the people of Mitchells Plain to continue to find new ways of growing their community and living healthier lives.”
Soil for Life’s Magda Campbell says that the organisation prioritises food security, health and care of the environment, and gets its hands dirty, quite literally, in some of the country’s poorest urban areas. “The donation that Anglo American has made will make a significant difference because, not only are the plants edible, they will supplement the garden that exists at Beacon School and help to sustain more of the Mitchells Plain community.”
Campbell adds that Soil for Life’s work is not just about gardening or growing food. It is also about growing people and empowering them with the skills and resourcefulness to help themselves on many fronts, from earning their own money, to supporting their families.
“Many of the gardeners we’ve trained are able to grow more vegetables than they need. They then either swop them for things they don’t grow or use them to barter for other items and services that aren’t generally available to people who don’t have cash – like education and healthcare. Our gardeners also often gain related skills, like making compost and building garden structures, that they can use to generate an income,” says Campbell.
“We are part of people’s lives, and people rightly expect us, as the leader in South Africa’s mining industry, to make a positive contribution to socio-economic development while reducing our environmental footprint and supporting biodiversity,” says Ramchander.