Glencore launches mine rehabilitation project at Wonderfontein

Glencore and partners claim pilot will help local economy
Glencore launches mine rehabilitation project at Wonderfontein Glencore launches mine rehabilitation project at Wonderfontein Glencore launches mine rehabilitation project at Wonderfontein Glencore launches mine rehabilitation project at Wonderfontein Glencore launches mine rehabilitation project at Wonderfontein

ESG project in South Africa to revolutionise mine closure

Glencore and local development partners have launched a pilot in South Africa that uses remediated mine land and water to grow wheat.

The pilot, launched in April 2021, is trialling the growth of different winter wheats - strains of wheat planted in the autumn for spring harvesting - at two sites.

The sites in Mpumalanga region include a rehabilitated mine site at the Umsimbithi-owned Wonderfontein mine and on nearby community land.

Australian NGO Business for Development has undertaken the project in partnership with Glencore Coal South Africa and domestic mining operator Umsimbithi Mining. It was also joined by an industry alliance, the International Council on Mining and Metals, South Africa's Mine Water Coordinating Body, and Impact Catalyst.

The NGO said in a statement that "key operational learnings" from the project will be shared with the South African government to help illustrate how the Mpumalanga region can transition from mining through new jobs and investment opportunities.

Thato Gama, General Manager at Wonderfontein mine said it was possible to take a holistic approach to mine closure, "which integrates environmental, social and economic factors", rather than just taking an "ecocentric viewpoint".

"We are excited to collaborate with our partners on this pilot project, which aims to successfully repurpose rehabilitated mine land for the benefit of our local communities," Gama said.

"This project will offer us invaluable insights in terms of alternative post-closure land uses and the opportunity to create viable economic and employment opportunities once upscaled.

"This can sustain the livelihoods and wellbeing of our communities well beyond mine closure."

Dawn Brock, ICMM, Manager - Closure Lead, described the pilot as a "great example" of how through careful planning and collaboration of key stakeholders, mine closure can "bring new opportunities for leaving behind a positive social and environmental legacy".

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