Monday, November 10, 2008

Platinum brings money to the Bafokeng people of South Africa

A tribe of people in South Africa have riches under their feet. The Bafokeng tribe in South Africa have land above the huge deposit of platinum, and mining of the mineral brings jobs and money to the tribe.

This story from the Independent On Line shows how this tribe has flourished and eliminated poverty thanks to the land they live on.

The Bafokeng's homeland, near the Sun City casino about two hours north-west of Joburg, lies on the world's richest reserve of the "white gold" and produces about 55 percent of global output of the highly sought-after metal.

Platinum reached record prices of over $2 000 an ounce this year, and even though it has now dropped to $850 an ounce, the Bafokeng remain bullish about the future because of the mineral's use in car manufacturing.

Full of confidence and pride, Bafokeng leaders signed a R16-billion joint-venture deal on Thursday with Anglo Platinum to sink a new mineshaft. This will more than double output at the Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum Mine and create 2 000 new jobs.

"The Bafokeng used to be passive, receiving royalties from mining companies on our land," the tribe's 40-year-old King Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi said at the inaugural ceremony. But now his 300 000-strong people have become shareholders, directors and active economic players, he said.

The last decade has seen about R3-billion ploughed back into the community. In contrast to many parts of South Africa, the neat houses in the nearby town have electricity. There are tarred roads, schools and clinics, and cranes tower above the new stadium being built for the 2010 World Cup.

The Bafokeng now lease land or conduct joint mining operations with some of the world's largest mining companies, such as Impala Platinum, Anglo Platinum and Xstrata.

"Mining has changed us. It has had a big impact," said Joseph Rapetsana, chief of one of the Bafokeng villages. "We have managed to service our people," he added.

But the Bafokeng are not immune to the massive poverty and unemployment facing millions of South Africans.

There is little employment other than on the mines, and many Bafokeng have to leave to look for better jobs in big cities such as Joburg.

"People say we are the richest tribe in Africa but there are still Bafokeng people who are poor and not educated," said Rapetsana, who praised the king's modern leadership and vision to make the Bafokeng self-sufficient by 2020.

No comments: