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  • The safety and health of our employees and our contractors
  • The training and development of our employees and our contractors
  • Fair remuneration
Human capital includes health, safety knowledge, skills, intellectual outputs, motivation and the capacity for relationships of individuals. Organisations depend on individuals to function.


We need a healthy, motivated and skilled workforce. Intellectual capital and knowledge management is also recognised as a key intangible creator of wealth. Damaging human capital by abuse of human rights or labour rights or compromising health and safety has financial and reputational costs.

The Venture enhances its human capital by:

  • giving employees and community members access to training, development and lifelong learning, and capturing and sharing knowledge;
  • ensuring adequate safety arrangements are in place; and
  • incentives and remuneration.

Stakeholder impact and engagement with stakeholders

The stakeholders most affected by the ability of Merafe and the Venture to keep our employees safe and healthy are their families and dependants.

The Venture believes in the possibility of a zero harm operation. We believe that all occupational diseases and injuries can be prevented and that therefore, we must all take responsibility to avoid occupational diseases and injuries.


Human capital: safety


One fatality
(2018: one fatality)


Total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR)
(2018: 3.39)


Lost-time injury frequency rate (LTIFR)
(2018: 1.26)

Disabling injury severity rate (DISR)
(2018: 116.43)


The Venture had no safety penalties or prosecutions

The Venture’s policies and approach to safety management

The Venture’s operations maintain stringent safety and risk management systems, which it aligns with the international standards: OHSAS 18001 and ISO 31000. Glencore collates best practice from each of its assets and from externally recognised leaders in safety management and shares this knowledge across the Glencore Group. Through Glencore, all the operations of the Venture are members of the International Council of Minerals and Mining.

The Venture takes a proactive and preventive approach towards safety, aiming to instill a positive safety culture in which everyone fully integrates its safety values into their working lives. It has updated its approach to safety by updating its risk management framework. Glencore’s fatal hazard protocols and high potential risk incident reporting processes have been rolled out in the Venture. There are weekly meetings and discussions around the reporting of HPRI’s.

Glencore's Sustainable Development Director is responsible for safety, health and wellness.

Safety programme overview

Objective Supporting actions
Zero fatalities

We reviewed and strengthened our incident investigation process to include 24-hour notification of senior management and the Glencore corporate sustainability team for fatal incidents and launched a mandatory on-site fatality investigation process following any fatal incident. The Venture’s senior management must then report to the Glencore Board HSEC Committee on fatalities and the subsequent independent investigations in person. Any lessons learned that could further improve general fatality prevention are shared across the Group.

We ensure independent third-party assistance is on site within 72 hours of a fatal incident.

We developed SAFEALLOYS, a Group initiative to foster a safety culture based on behaviours and consequences at all levels.

We rolled out on an annual basis fatal hazard protocols (which is reviewed annually) and life-saving behaviours (part of the SAFEALLOYS programme) across the Group.

Reduction of TRIFR The Venture focused on reducing the TRIFR. The supporting actions resulted in the TRIFR reducing from 4.58 (2010 baseline) to 2.56 in 2019.

The Glencore Fatal Hazard Protocols and Life Saving Behaviours, which provide a set of tools which initially are focused on the fatal risks, are being rolled out in the Venture as part of SAFEALLOYS. The life-saving behaviours are aimed at strengthening the focus in the Venture on behaviours and consequences rather than a rules-based culture. The fatal risk categories that Glencore has identified as being most hazardous and responsible for the majority of its fatalities include: energy isolation, working at heights, mobile equipment, ground/strata failure, confined space and electrical safety. Over and above this, the Venture highlights specifically people vehicle interaction as a key danger area.

In 2019 there were 73 (2018: 97) recorded injuries in a workforce of 11 448 (including contractors). An in-depth analysis by the Venture revealed that no one single factoral cause stood out in 2019, but that ‘at risk behaviour’ remains a major problem. As safety is the number one priority in the Venture, a number of campaigns were rolled out and re-emphasised including ‘SAFEALLOYS’, ‘Life Saving Behaviours’ and ‘Safework coaching’.

The Venture implemented the Fatal Hazard Protocols in 2015 and continually implements positive reinforcement programs.


Safety in the Venture is always the direct responsibility of Glencore’s senior management, who provide the leadership, systems and processes for the prevention of incidents and the elimination of fatalities in the Venture. The formal management structure documents responsibility for safety from the Glencore Board down to each individual Venture employee and contractor.

The Venture puts considerable effort into embedding a safety culture in its operations. Its leaders are aware that they are expected to put safety before production or other considerations and to personally endorse safety initiatives and engage with employees at all levels to discuss safety issues and priorities.

It concludes health and safety agreements with the trade unions.

The sustainable development policies in place in the Venture are aligned with the Glencore Group Sustainable Development Standards. They set out its commitment to zero injuries and fatalities.

The role of training

The Venture’s investment in safety training is detailed below in the Human capital section of this report. It continues to use virtual reality training, combined with easy-to-read written instructions, on all its different procedures. The training is designed to ensure that employees cannot complete their training on a procedure until they have shown they fully understand it. Training, as can be seen from the detail in this report, was a major focus during the year. Focus for 2019 was again on supervisory development training, ensuring that all supervisors understood their legal responsibility, life saving behaviours, fatal hazard protocols and critical controls.

Human capital: health and wellness

Human capital includes health, knowledge, skills, intellectual outputs, motivation and the capacity for relationships of individuals.


One noise-induced hearing loss cases
(2018: Nil)



Employees who test positive for HIV are encouraged to register for treatment


Employees receive HIV and Aids counseling, care and support free of charge



Health programmes at the Venture aim to eliminate occupational illness

Organisations depend on individuals to function. They need a healthy, motivated and skilled workforce. Intellectual capital and knowledge management is also recognised as a key intangible creator of wealth. Damaging human capital by abuse of human rights or labour rights or compromising health and safety has direct, as well as reputational costs.

We enhance our human capital by providing healthcare and training and education in health matters.

Our policy and approach

A business needs a healthy workforce that is able to work at its full potential. The health programmes provided by the Venture, aim to eliminate and address occupational illnesses, public health issues and the overall wellbeing of its employees and contractors.

Typically, occupational illnesses such as noise induced hearing loss ("NIHL") are only diagnosed some time after the event that caused them. As a result, the occupational illnesses currently occurring in the Venture’s operations are usually the result of historic mining and smelting practices.

The Venture has identified NIHL as a major occupational health risk for its employees and has employed a full time Audiologist to counteract this risk. Any of its workers exposed to the internationally accepted noise level limit of 85 decibels or above were issued with personalised noise clippers hearing protection. The equipment it provides includes variphones/noise clippers, which are custom-made for comfort and are 100% leak tight. Employees are trained in the use, maintenance and storage and care of this equipment. Any employees or contractors at risk of being exposed to noise that could damage their hearing are personally monitored and regularly tested as part of our hearing conservation programmes.

Wherever possible, the Venture reduces the noise from the equipment it uses in its operations to levels below the internationally recommended standards using design modifications, exclusive zones and ‘buy quiet’ programmes for new or upgraded equipment. The Venture’s operations have reduced machinery noise to less than 110 decibels. There was one noise induced hearing loss case in 2019 (2018: Nil).

All the Venture’s operations undergo an annual risk assessment of their baseline risks on and legal audits are conducted by an external legal company accompanied by subject matter specialists every three years.

HIV and Aids

HIV and Aids is a human rights issue, which Merafe and the Venture address through their policies and programmes. To ensure these policies are accessible to the Venture’s employees and contractors, they are available in all the languages spoken by its employees.

Employees can choose to receive HIV and Aids counseling, care and support. Any HIV-positive employees of the Venture can receive treatment they need free of charge, together with the support and education that will make it possible for them to maintain their antiretroviral treatment programme through the membership of a medical aid.

All the Venture’s occupational health nurses have been trained in the management of HIV and TB and the impact of HIV and TB. All employees who visit its occupational health clinics are screened for TB. Those whose screening tests indicate they may have TB are referred to healthcare facilities for TB investigation and treatment. The Venture’s wellness programme has been incorporated into the annual/periodic medicals conducted at each operation. Medical records remain on site and are only seen by the Occupational Medical Practitioner and the nurses included in the wellness program.

All Venture employees who are HIV-positive are encouraged to receive antiretroviral treatment.

The Venture's HIV and Aids policies commit to:

  • providing employees and contractors with the knowledge they need to protect themselves and their families from HIV and Aids through workplace education programmes that explain clearly how HIV can be contracted, what can be done to prevent contracting and transferring HIV, and what should be done to enhance the quality and length of life of those who are HIV-positive;
  • encouraging employees and contractors to know their HIV status and providing counselling and testing facilities for them;
  • running HIV and Aids campaigns that involve employees at every level of the organisation;
  • ensuring that every employee attends an HIV and Aids education session during working hours, followed by an individual wellness counselling session with a healthcare provider;
  • ensuring that testing for HIV is voluntary and that employees are only tested for HIV and Aids after giving their informed consent;
  • guaranteeing the confidentiality of employees' medical information;
  • providing pre- and post-test counselling for employees or contractors wishing to be tested for HIV and Aids;
  • forming public-private partnerships with local, provincial and national government structures in joint projects to fight HIV and Aids in the communities in which the Venture operates; and
  • facilitating the training of peer educators and establishing and training home-based care workers through the Venture's corporate social investment programme.

Human capital: our employees

Organisations depend on individuals to function. They need a healthy, motivated and skilled workforce.


protected or unprotected


The Venture has recognition agreements in place


of the Venture’s workforce is unionised



  • Industrial action in the mining industry and the Venture
  • Meeting our employment equity and human resource development targets and exceeding the Mining Charter scorecard targets
  • Employee work satisfaction
  • Maximising local employment in the Venture
  • Retaining skilled employees and securing the next generation of skilled employees
  • Remuneration

Intellectual capital and knowledge management is also recognised as a key intangible creator of wealth. Damaging human capital by abuse of human rights or labour rights or compromising health and safety has financial and reputational costs.

We enhance our human capital by:

  • giving employees and community members access to training, development and lifelong learning and capturing and sharing knowledge;
  • respecting human rights;
  • paying fair remuneration to our employees and our business partners; and
  • creating satisfying work opportunities.

Our approach to our employees

Glencore’s Code of Conduct, which is applied in the Venture, recognises and upholds the rights of employees to a safe workplace, collective representation, just compensation, job security and opportunities for development, all of which are based on the core belief that our people are fundamental to our success.

Glencore’s Human Resources Director is responsible for labour relations in the Venture.

Both Merafe and the Venture are committed to providing a workplace based on:

  • mutual respect;
  • fairness;
  • integrity;
  • non-discrimination;
  • equal opportunity at all levels; and
  • open and two-way engagement with our employees and their representatives.

More on our approach to our employees, and adherence to international employment standards can be found on our online Integrated Annual Report for 2019 under Human capital: our employees.

Labour relations

While Merafe’s (as apposed to the Venture's) employees are not unionised, we consult with them in advance of any significant changes to our business.

Engagement and resolving disputes amicably plays a very important role in labour relations. The Venture undertakes to consult with its employees and their recognised representatives in advance of significant operational changes in an effort to reach consensus about any necessary business actions.

Collective bargaining and freedom of association are considered a fundamental right for the Venture’s employees. Collective agreements, particularly around terms and conditions of employment and company benefits, are negotiated between the parties with due regard to the relevant legislation. The Venture seeks to reach agreement with the unions on annual wage increases for implementation in July each year.

The Venture is committed to treating all its employees with dignity and in a manner that is culturally sensitive. Unfair discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, political or sexual orientation, national extraction or social origin is not tolerated.

Disciplinary and grievance policies and procedures are in place at Merafe and the Venture.

Industrial action at the Venture in 2019

There were no protected or unprotected strikes during 2019.

In 2018, the Venture signed three-year wage agreements with the western mines, the western smelters and the eastern smelters.

Union membership

The Venture has recognition agreements with NUM, NUMSA and Solidarity and approximately 73% of its workforce is unionised.


of the Venture’s workforce in 2019 was female


Merafe had a total workforce of
7 employees and the Venture
7 368 employees
at 31 December 2019

Key focus of the Venture is on
retention strategies
with specific reference to junior and senior management HDSAs

The total workforce of the Venture by employment type*

Category 2019   2018 2017  
Full time employees 7 022   6 800 6 651  
Temporary/fixed term employees 432   499 431  
External contractors 3 994   8 641 8 315  
Total 11 448   15 940 15 245  
* The numbers are the 2019 average numbers. The number of full time employees and fixed term employees at 31 December 2019 was 7 368.

Maximising local employment

Hiring policies

When hiring employees we give preference, where possible, to members of the local community and, in some instances, we offer training opportunities to community members to develop the skills they need to become our employees.

Diversity and equal opportunity

Management and site employment equity committees monitor employment equity in the Venture’s operations every month and report the results to the Venture, which in turn reports to Glencore and Merafe.

We base our employment equity policies on providing equal opportunities to all potential and existing employees.

Employee challenges
  • Maximising local employment in the Venture;
  • Achieving employment equity that is supported by everyone in the workplace;
  • Making careers in mining more accessible to women in the Venture;
  • Engaging with the Venture’s employees and the trade union through open communication channels to achieve labour peace; and
  • Providing a workplace that is free of discrimination.

Venture workforce by employment and gender type at 31 December 2019

Permanent and fixed term Male Female Total  
Senior management 93 13 106  
Middle management 133 59 192  
Supervisors, administrators, technicians 1 063 428 1 491  
Operational, maintenance, production 4 879 700 5 570  
Grand total 6 168 1 200 7 368  
Diversity in the Venture

The term diversity used in this section of the report is based on the Mining Charter Scorecard’s definition of historically disadvantaged South Africans ("HDSAs"), which includes African males and females, coloured males and females, Indian males and females and white females. Ongoing transformation is a priority and is discussed at all levels. The Venture is again focusing on its retention strategies with specific reference to senior management HDSAs and junior management.

Venture employment equity % Mining
Senior management 60 47   47  
Middle management 60 66   65  
Junior management 70 57   59  
Core skills 60 94   94  
Diversity in Merafe
Mining Charter % Mining
Top management (includes Board) 60 87   87  
Senior management (Exco) 60 100   100  
Middle management 60 100   100  

There are no junior managers employed by Merafe.

Merafe achieved a Level 5 B-BBEE status under the Codes of Good Practice in 2019. A copy of the certificate is on the Company website together with an explanation and reasons for the rating.

Human capital: training and development


The Venture invested
R149 million in training
(2018: R144 million)


An average of R13 008
was invested in training for each member of the Venture’s workforce (employees and contractors)
(2018: R9 057)


1 074 884
Venture total training hours
(2018: 1 032 429)


R51 million
invested in artisan and apprentice training
 (2018: R47 million)

R8.7 million
invested in bursaries and scholarships
(2018: R7 million)


70 average training hours per permanent employee
(2018: 67)


550 970 training hours for contractors
(2018: 539 814)


138 average training hours per external contractor employee
(2018: 62)

The Venture provides full time adult education and training (AET) for its employees and portable skills training that equips employees for careers beyond the Venture.

Development and training

Both Merafe and the Venture are committed to meeting their human resource development targets and retaining and developing their skilled employees.

The Venture provides:

  • development and training opportunities for HDSAs that will help them to further their careers;
  • career development opportunities that allow it to develop and retain high potential employees;
  • training that addresses risk-tolerant or ingrained behaviours that impact negatively on our operations; and
  • training in its Code of Conduct and Sustainable Development Standards and HSEC Standards and Protocols.

It continually evaluates its training methods and the best way to communicate with the various age groups and cultures in its workforce.

Training hours

  2019     2018  
Total training hours 1 074 884     1 032 430  
Total training hours for permanent employees 523 913     492 616  
Average training hours per permanent employee 70     67  
Total training hours for contractors 550 970     539 814  
Average training hours per contractor 138*   62  
Number of health issues training sessions 12 409     13 941  
Number of safety issues training sessions 24 053     25 368  
Number of human rights issues training sessions 21 053     16 550  
Number of environmental training sessions 19 044     16 352  
Community health training 117     142  
Community environmental training 200     185  
Community human rights training 159     194  
* Number of contractors: 3 994 (average).

Development of staff was a key focus in 2019 across all sites. Increased focus on computer-based training made training more efficient and structured.

Leadership development

The Venture invites senior managers whom it has identified as having leadership potential to participate in leadership programmes at universities. The Venture also provides them with additional training, support and career development opportunities. In all, 50% of senior management level employees who participated in a senior leadership programme were HDSA; 80% (2018: 72%) of middle management level employees who participated in development programmes in 2019 were HDSA; and 80% (2018: 81%) of junior leaders who attended a programme to enhance their supervisory skills were HDSA.