Anglo American is a globally diversified mining business with more than 87,000 employees worldwide. Some of the Anglo American operations within South Africa are in the platinum, iron ore, coal and diamond mining sectors. Kumba Iron Ore (a business unit of Anglo American) has a workforce contingent of just over 8,000 permanent employees, and a further 8,000 contractors across their three mining operations in South Africa (Sishen Mine; Kolomela Mine in the Northern Cape province and Thabazimbi Mine in the Limpopo province).
Kolomela mine is situated near the town of Postmasburg, and is the newest operation in the group. It came into operation in 2011, ahead of schedule and on budget. The mine produces lump ore with excellent physical strength that meets a niche demand. The mine has many contractors assisting the mining operations and have more contractor employees than own employees working on site.
Kumba has a complex network of external stakeholders that includes neighboring communities, the South African government at its various levels, investors, suppliers and various media representatives. Effective and two-way engagement of these diverse stakeholders is a critical requirement for broad based stakeholder support in executing the company’s strategy. The importance of Kumba’s communication with its stakeholders is clear, and thus warrants regular monitoring and evaluation.
In 2013, Kumba conducted a comprehensive Communication Audit Research Project to determine the current communication climate. The 2013 Communication Audit was commissioned in keeping to the best practice of regular evaluation but also in acknowledgement of a changing socio-political and labour environment which heightened the need for stakeholder insights. A proposed approach was developed by the Corporate Communication team, presented to and approved by the Kumba Iron Ore Executive Committee on 11 March 2013. This research would be used to compile the communication strategy for 2015–2017. At Kumba, as in many companies in South Africa, contractors do not receive the same benefits as permanent employees and are also sometimes excluded from daily activities like communication gatherings. One aspect of the research report emphasised that contractor communication needed attention on the mines.