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Rössing and sustainable development

Rössing’s core purpose in its 2006 Business Strategy was to create the most sustainable value for all our stakeholders.

This statement is consistent with Rio Tinto’s policy that its businesses, projects, operations and products should contribute constructively to the global transition to sustainable development.

Development can be sustainable if it is socially acceptable, environmentally responsible, economically viable, and satisfies the needs of the present generation without hindering future generations in the satisfaction of their needs.

To make this policy operational at Rössing requires a shift in thinking from a purely economically driven planning and decision-making process, to one that in addition considers social, economic and environmental aspects that Rössing influences externally or indirectly. In practice, this can only be achieved through governance and management systems driven by dedicated employees who recognise that contributing to sustainable development has many business benefits to Rössing and to Rio Tinto. These benefits and anticipated outcomes of the mine’s strategy are shown in the diagram on this page.

This 2006 review gives examples of how implementation of the strategy was attempted last year. Like previous reports, this Report to Stakeholders is also structured so that it successively talks about Rössing’s performance in the areas of our influence, starting from the most direct sphere of influence - the heart of the operation - Rössing’s employees, via the business and the mine site itself, our neighbouring communities, the Erongo Region, and the Namibian nation, to the widest sphere of influence: Rössing’s product in the global marketplace.

Key to decisions that could influence others is to have a good understanding of people’s concerns and perceptions. Therefore, stakeholder consultation and engagement processes played an important role during 2006. In the following sections, a number of fora are described that were used to facilitate information exchange and joint decision-making. The report also contains a number of assessments undertaken by stakeholders to test how successful some of these engagements were.

Rössing’s progress in the four key performance areas identified in the diagram is achieved through the use of management systems and guided by our own principles and policies as well as by those which are stated in Rio Tinto’s policy document.

 

 

An example of one of the systems applied at Rössing is the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 14001 environmental management system, which is designed to promote continuous improvement in environmental performance. Rössing’s compliance with ISO 14001 requirements has been certified since 2004, as has its compliance with the revised ISO 14001:2004 standard. During the last audit carried out in November 2006 by Bureau Veritas only one minor finding was reported and the ISO 14001 certification was maintained. The Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) Policy guiding the system is shown in Rössing’s Policy on Health, Safety and Environment.

In addition, performance standards and guidance documents have been developed to ensure the mine’s and Rio Tinto’s visions are realised. Examples of standards include the Safety Standard, the Occupational Health Standard, the nine Environmental Standards as well as the Water and Closure Standards.

The directors of Rössing believe that high standards of corporate governance are central to business integrity and performance.  The Board Audit Committee ensures that good corporate governance is maintained throughout the organisation. During 2006, the following 11 internal audits were performed: Republic of South Africa Value Added Tax; Transfer Pricing; Major Consumables; Payroll Master Data; Capital Acquisition; Plant Maintenance; Rössing Foundation; and four Information Technology-related audits. Audit findings are brought to the attention of the managers accountable within Rössing, so that the necessary corrective changes can be made.

Lastly, sustainable development thinking considers the future beyond the time when the mine will finally have to close. What will be left behind socially, economically and environmentally will measure how much Rössing’s operations will have contributed to lasting development. The business and closure plans for the mine and the corporate social engagement programmes of the Rössing Foundation aim to leave behind a very positive legacy for Rössing Uranium. In the sections that follow, this report will present some projects and case studies that pursue this goal.

 


 

 

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