AMI Outreach: Birmingham to South Africa

As part of a joint Inter-faith initiative by Anglo-American, a global Mining company and DeBeers, a South-African Diamond mine company; Al-Mahdi Institute’s Outreach Officer, Ms Rukhsana Bhanji was invited to participate in a Faith based educational trip to South Africa along with different faith representatives from around the world. The aim of the trip was to provide an insight into the daily operations and community work of Anglo-American and DeBeers in return for a diverse faith based perspective on how mining companies can work simultaneously with faith leaders and institutions for the betterment of stakeholders and local communities.

Operated in partnership by Anglo-American and DeBeers, the mine in focus was the Venetia diamond mine in the Limpopo province of South Africa, . Held over four days, from the 27th to 31st July; the trip began in Johannesburg, famously known for being the financial capital of South Africa. Accompanied by Anglo-American executives, the faith representatives visited the house of Nelson Mandela in Soweto, where he spent 16 years of his life in house arrest and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg; dedicated to illustrating apartheid and the 20th century history of South Africa.

Next stop was the DeBeers Venetia Diamond Mine in the Limpopo province, situated near the town of Alldays. Here, faith representatives were given the opportunity to experience the daily on-the-ground mining operations to enrich the overall industry-faith community dialogue and to understand the impact of the environmental, health, safety and community-related projects by DeBeers and Anglo-American.

Another crucial element of the trip was to understand local community characteristics, civil society organizations, community and local government leader perspectives regarding the positive and negative impacts of mining in the community/region/country more broadly and how the host company has been responding to these issues. For this, the faith representatives were given a tour of the projects that DeBeers and Anglo-American initiated and continuously maintain for the development of local communities. Some of the projects explored were; a school for children of special needs, a secondary school, an outdoor football pitch for the local community and more.

Overall, the trip provided a thought-provoking insight into the operations and initiatives of DeBeers and Anglo-American and the impact of them on stakeholders, local communities, the environment and the South African economy.