The EWB-SA Mining for Shared Value work group hosted a screening of “The Shore Break” documentary at the trendy Worley Parsons Melrose Arch boardroom on the 26th of May 2016. The event was hosted in association with the Young Professionals Council of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. The rather breezy evening presented a perfect setting for the documentary which depicted the complexities surrounding a proposed titanium mine and smelter in a coastal community.
The leading characters in the documentary are the two Pondo cousins who have opposing visions of the future of their land. Nonhle wants to preserve the land and ensure sustainable development. She is supported by a local social worker and some of the community elders who strongly believe that the land belongs to their ancestors. Qunya is a very vocal supporter of the mining project and he believes that mining and the construction of a highway will help boost the economy of the community.
As the screening occurred it became apparent that there is no clear line between who is right and who is wrong. Some of the moments had dry humour associated with them but this opened a platform for solid discussions to take place during the break.
The panel discussion hosted by Nikita Vala was centralised around a few questions that arose from the film. The most critical of these being
1) What constitutes 'sufficient' community consultation and engagement and how do you know that you have achieved it?
2) What is the role of engineers in ensuring ethical conduct in the mining and minerals processing sector?
Panelists Tshepho Mmola (Head of SAIMM YPC) , Xolisile (Former Leader of MSV) and Murendeni(Founder of MSV)
A unanimous conclusion that was brought forward was that community participation needs a more vigorous involvement of the engineers, lawyers and social workers that work in and around the mining space. These professionals need more platforms such as the screening to engage with each other about these matters. Through these platforms, solutions and processes can be generated and put forward to relevant stake holders. This will ensure that a visible impact is made by the young and engaged professionals within the mining space.
- Nomathemba Thabethe