The Group's impact extends well beyond its direct employees and into the communities where it operates. In Zimbabwe it has been estimated that, for every employee, as many as ten others derive benefit from Asa's operations; a total of more than 30,000 people.
SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
In 2016, the Group promoted two Zimbabwean senior executives to oversee the Group's operations. Mr Toi Muganyi was appointed as Chief Operating Officer and Mr Batirai Manhando, Chief Technical Officer. These appointments, together with another experienced Zimbabwean, Mr David Murangari, as non-Executive Chairman of the Group, highlight our commitment to supporting indigenised business communities.
Preference during recruitment is given to the local community, especially for unskilled and semi-skilled positions. At Klipspringer Mine in South Africa, over 50% of the workforce was recruited from the immediate community, and a further 41% from within the province. Virtually all staff in our exploration operations are drawn from the immediate communities. At Freda Rebecca Mine in Zimbabwe, over 90% of the workforce is from the local town of Bindura.
As part of our commitment to comply with local indingenisation laws, procurement is sourced from local/provincial suppliers. Several small business enterprises have been established or assisted by Freda Rebecca to provide services to the mine villages, and to encourage entrepreneurial ventures. The mines and exploration projects assist with infrastructure support; such as the refurbishment of schools, upgrade of roads, and the construction of small bridges.
Where operations interact with artisanal gold miners, the company has undertaken studies to better understand the issues of, and challenges faced by, these populations. This is a prelude to formulating a strategy to manage future interactions with the aim to improve these miners' working conditions.
SOCIAL INVESTMENT AND EDUCATION
Freda Rebecca Mine has developed a partnership with the Italian NGO, Terre des Hommes, to improve the educational facilities at the local village's crèche. This NGO aims to uplift vulnerable children through the full provision of school fees for a child's educational career. It is hoped that this partnership can be extended to the local primary schools in the Bindura area. Both BNC and Freda Rebecca Mine assist local scholars to complete their tertiary education by providing them with 6-month vocational placements. Freda Rebecca Mine is also sponsoring 4 students through their degrees at the School of Mines. BNC provides on-site primary school education, funds secondary schooling and grants a number of scholarships to higher education institutions for employees' children.
The Social and Labour Plan recently formulated for Kilpspringer Mine commits the company to a 5-year plan of staff career development targets through Adult Basic Education (ABET), in-house core skills training, learnerships and bursaries.
The Group is very aware of its obligations towards compliance and adherence to local rules and regulations. In order that it complies with these important requirements, including indigenisation laws in Zimbabwe, FRGM has already submitted its report to the respective minister and is waiting on final approval. In the meantime, the Group has mandated a consultant to prepare the indigenisation plan for BNC. As a responsible multinational listed company, we respect the local culture and strictly comply with the local laws and regulations for the benefit of local communities.
The Group previously held 69.77% of the equity at Klipspringer mine in South Africa. When fresh capital was required in 2015, our minority holder opted not to participate, with the unintended consequence of pushing our stake over the threshold of 74% permitted under South Africa's Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) regulations. The Group is seeking to resolve this issue through a partnership with another experienced diamond producer.