Safety performance marred by three tragic work-related fatalities
Business improvement programme yielding higher productivity and cost efficiency
Higher external coal purchases and reduced export sales to enable continuous supply to the Sasol value chain
Acquired additional mining rights, ensuring sufficient coal reserves to supply Secunda to 2050
Reached three-year wage agreement with trade unions, in support of maintaining labour stability and an uninterrupted coal supply
Extended homeownership programme, benefiting 140 employees since January 2016
Increased engagement with our people, particularly on safety and B-BBEE transactions
In the year ahead, as our R14 billion mine replacement programme nears completion, achieving safe operations remains our top priority. We continue our work to ensure our long-term sustainability by also maintaining our compliance with B-BBEE ownership requirements as well as securing the least-cost, optimum-quality coal for our Secunda operations to 2050. We are monitoring regulatory requirements and continue to participate in related discussions through the Minerals Council South Africa. As part of our digitalisation efforts, we are implementing solutions to better integrate all mining operations and monitor machines and people more accurately. We remain focused on strengthening our relationships with recognised trade unions, government and our fenceline communities.
2018 marked the second of two very challenging years at our mining operations. 2017 was marred by a prolonged labour strike which impacted productivity, employee morale and engagement and led to several cost increases. In 2018, our operations were affected by three tragic work-related fatalities, those of Mr Dumisani Sibanyoni on 6 December 2017, Mr Mandla Mahlangu on 24 January 2018 and Mr Nefthali Sepeame on 9 February 2018. Safety remains our top priority and we are deeply concerned about these fatalities. In the year, we took decisive action to refocus on safety. We implemented a complete work stoppage to pause and reflect on our safety performance and carried out a month-long safety campaign to identify the root causes and learnings of high-severity incidents, which we are sharing across our operations. Given the fatalities and work stoppages, productivity declined.
However, to enable an uninterrupted supply, we purchased coal from third parties and reduced sales of export coal. To ensure continuity of coal supply to Secunda Synfuels until 2050, we secured a mining right for Block IV at Syferfontein colliery and received approval from the Department of Mineral Resources to acquire two important reserves – Alexander and Rietfontein.
We are committed to creating a safe place for our employees to work and to restore productivity. To this end, we implemented a business improvement plan aimed at improving productivity to levels last seen in 2011 and reducing costs through digitalisation and improving our work processes. We started to see some of the early benefits of the programme, with increased productivity from March 2018. Our employees are more positive and leaders are spending more time in mining operations to coach, mentor and support our people.
For the first time ever, we reached a multi-year wage agreement with all our participating trade unions, which will support labour stability in our operations. We continued to build our relationships with all stakeholders and embarked on leadership capability development for management and union leaders.