LEADING THE WAY IN THE REGENERATION
OF THE FREESTATE GOLDFIELDS
Downscaling within the gold industry brought significant restructuring and job losses in areas that were mostly dependent on gold mining. The need to establish projects that create employment in these areas has been jointly identified by the national government and the players within the gold industry.
Harmony has been actively involved as initiator and facilitator of a range of pioneering ventures, thereby creating an entirely new class of value adding enterprises and employment opportunities. The Freestate was identified as an area in which Harmony could make a significant contribution to an improvement in the quality of life of the community. Many of these opportunities are focused on downstream value adding of Harmony’s production.
The establishment of a jewellery hub in Virginia in the Freestate goldfields
The development of a jewellery manufacturing hub for Virginia was announced during 2000. The project, a co-ordinated approach between Harmony, labour, government and other stakeholders, has progressed well in its endeavours to establish a leading South African jewellery industry. Businesses and enterprises are being established in existing excess company infrastructures in order to ensure job creation, skills development and transfer, stimulation of local economies and poverty alleviation.
The Virginia jewellery school
The school was officially opened in November 2000. The school, situated in Virginia, is the first of its kind in the Freestate and is sponsored through the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and Harmony. The school started with an intake of 20 students from disadvantaged communities. Further phases include a "hive system" where trainees and crafts people drawn from the community can produce products aimed at local and international markets. The involvement of tertiary institutions is envisaged to ensure that the development progresses towards higher level qualifications, also complementing the further needs of the jewellery manufacturing industry.
Oro Maska project
This independent factory involves an investment of approximately R65 million in the region. The project is a joint initiative between Harmony, the Bhagwanji Group of companies, BAE Systems plc, the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC) and the Freestate Development Corporation (FDC).
Oro Maska is in the process of establishing a factory, which will add value to Harmony’s refined gold through the design and manufacture of superior quality jewellery.
Royal South African Manufactures (RSAM)
This project is in the construction phase and involves chain manufacturing in a renovated facility on company property. The project will be labour intensive, with chain products aimed at the North American jewellery markets being manufactured here. The project is planned to be in full operation by October 2001.
Virginia housing project
In its endeavours to resolve the need for affordable family accommodation for employees, Harmony embarked on a housing project together with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the local council. The project includes the upgrade and renovation of hostels into family units and the incorporation of other available infrastructures into the development of small business enterprises.
Although the Freestate region is currently being targeted for community development, these aforementioned projects have the potential to be replicated in the other operational areas of Harmony.
Small enterprise assistance projects
In the Elandskraal region the company has assisted in establishing ten small business enterprises. These enterprises either supply consumables or render repair and maintenance services to the company’s operations in the region.