Today, Exxaro hosted an official Rietkuil Housing Handover Ceremony to celebrate the completion of the company's Leeuwpan Mine Rietkuil Resettlement Project after five years of hard work.
The auspicious event was attended by key Exxaro executives, the MEC of Human Settlements Mpumalanga, Ms Nora Mahlangu, Victor Khanye Local Municipality Executive Mayor - Councillor KV Buda, as well as members of the community and representatives from each household to honour Exxaro's ongoing commitment to the Rietkuil farming community and welcome local families into 49 brand-new resettlement homes in Botleng (about 15km from Rietkuil). To ensure that the families settle in well and have a smooth transition into their new homes, Exxaro will also be covering the costs of municipal services for these households for the first five years.
In his speech, Exxaro CEO, Mr Mxolisi Mgojo voiced his pride for the project. "Exxaro has always sought to be actively engaged in building South Africa, so we wanted to make it possible for every family unit to own their own house. We used the strength of our business to collaboratively foster an empowered Rietkuil community that can access and participate in, more socio-economic possibilities. What we are doing here today, is about creating impact and leaving a legacy for future generations. We exist as Exxaro to power better lives for everyone single one of our stakeholders."
The resettlement project goes hand-in-hand with the mining leader's Leeuwpan Lifex project located in Delmas, Mpumalanga. The R500 million extension initiative is expected to increase the life of the mine by a decade, providing an additional 4.7 million tonnes a year of mining capacity and continuing to contribute to the surrounding communities.
After anticipating that Lifex would impact Rietkuil, Exxaro consulted extensively with the community and initiated the relocation plan as a way to continue the safe operation of the mine and the wellbeing of the community. At the time, 143 community members were living in 20 separate households, but Exxaro offered to build more houses so that every family unit within a household could own their own house. This resulted in the 20 households splitting into family units of one or two adults with child dependants, creating 49 new households of various sizes (two to four bedrooms).
In line with Exxaro's commitment to local economic development, Leeuwpan mine appointed five local companies to construct the houses and another company to do the earthworks of the resettlement project. All of these businesses were instructed to employ local community members and provide certified training for their employees. A total of 386 jobs were created during the project, including other subcontractor opportunities such as rubble removal, painting, landscaping and fencing. Although COVID-19 challenges affected the construction of the resettlement houses, the teams worked together tirelessly to ensure that relocation could be completed by December 2020.
Executive Mayor of the Victor Khanye Local Municipality, Cllr VK Buda, said: "This is the second housing project that Exxaro is giving to our communities. We want to thank you for not only building homes but also empowering our local enterprises and contractors from Victor Khanye Municipality to be service providers in the delivery of such projects. Our people are living under very difficult circumstances and these empowerment opportunities provided by Exxaro address societal challenges of unemployment, thereby sustaining our communities. Such partnerships are crucial for the development of our people. It is only when we work together as a government with the private sector that we will move our country forward."
"This journey is about working with others, co-creating to multiply opportunities and building together. This is not about self-glorification – this is about what can we collectively create opportunities for our communities. As part of this journey, we have revised our strategy and it is about sustainable growth and impact. To this end, we are grateful for the support from Cllr VK Buda, the Executive Mayor of the Victor Khanye Local Municipality, his staff, the community members and our various partners on this project. Exxaro is proud to be part of partnerships like these where government and business work together for the benefit of communities. This kind of work will help to develop our people, minimising poverty, unemployment, and inequality in the long run," concluded Mgojo.