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July 2007
In July's Mining News: Anglo Platinum's successful resettlement of Potgietersrust's Ga-Pila Community and Goldfields' Kloof Main Shaft Celebrate a million fatality free shifts


Barry Davison, Angola Platinum’s chairperson, has described Ga–Pila as a “magnificent milestone for the local community, Angloplat and PPRust,” while others have described it as part of a movement towards the reconstruction and development of our nation.

Quoted as an example of successful resettlement, Ga–Pila involved the families of the old village of Ga-Pila being resettled in a modern residential area of Sterkwater in Limpopo over a three-year period.

In 2001 Angloplat announced that the Potgietersrust Platinum Mines Limited (PPL) management and the community of Ga-Pila were jointly involved in the resettlement of the entire community to the new village on the Sterkwater farm. Negotiations, which include national, provincial and local governments, had reached an historical milestone – the commencement of the construction of houses for the population of about 4 500. The new residential area was built at a cost of R186-million and boasts an infrastructure that includes water reticulation, water-borne sewage and electricity. It consists of 798 homes, eight shops, two church buildings, two schools, a clinic and a crèche.

Each family was provided with a new brick home in a serviced village. The communities were also provided with alternative land for ploughing and grazing, and compensation for loss of crops and given seed to plant new ones.

Despite this, some relocated occupants of the new houses at Sterkwater have become dissatisfied with the maintenance of services. Angloplat handed over the responsibility for maintenance of services at Sterkwater to the local municipality on completion of construction and relocation. It would appear that capacity constraints within the municipality have meant that service provision has become somewhat erratic at times and has led to the residents, who do not receive an adequate response from the municipality, blaming Angloplat.

Angloplat has learnt from this relocation experience and is coming very closely with local municipalities to ensure there is capacity to maintain service delivery before responsibility is handed over. In future, the group will also ensure that post-resettlement monitoring programmes, management plans and consultative forums are established to deal with post-relocation grievances and issues.


Keith Stead, the operations manager at Main Shaft, Kloof had been walking on eggshells for the past week. He was concerned that the safety milestone for which he and his team had been striving for 299 days might once again elude them.

Then, the news came through – the night shift teams were back on surface and Main Shaft had now achieved a million fatality-free shifts. 

Being a safety millionaire brought not only pride and jubilation to Stead but deep-felt relief. For as he put it: ‘I have been up to the 900 000s on four occasions and I was worried that we might get zapped again. This is my first personal million.

“Our last fatality was in July 2006 and it has not been easy. We came off seven fatalities and we had some serious injuries over the past year.”

Stead was adamant that the safety success was earned by the entire team and he insisted that even all the office staff be on the bank with hard hats to witness the achievement.

“We believe in the concept that one team makes Main Shaft the best. That’s a philosophy I have been working on since I came here four years ago. The ‘one team’ is about everyone working for the common goal. As long as you are one team you can do anything. ‘Main’ means being the most important, the king of the hill. The emphasis is on ‘Main’. The ‘best’ comes from best principles – bottom line environment, safety and teamwork. Another thing that has played a big part is our Eyethu intervention and turning those principles into reality as well as the involvement of stakeholders. I also have a great working relationship with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

“We must always remember that luck plays its part, but as Gary Player says; ‘The more I practice, the luckier I get’.” Stead said a major factor had been the decentralizing of safety back onto the shafts. This allowed Main Shaft to do its own projects with its own safety officer at the shaft.

“We can do our own safety campaigns and be more innovative,” he said. “We implement the Eyethu Ground Rules – around here I am responsible for putting safety first.” He also praised the Cebisa underground coaching and training team led by mine overseer Johnny Rogers and his team.

Zwaii Mbazana, the full-time union representative on Main Shaft said improved safety at the shaft could be put down to team work, people working hard, good communication with from the management and the roles played by the safety officers and the full-time shaft steward.

“We focus on the problem, not the individual,” said Stead. “We are hard on results and soft on people.”


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