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Lessons in diversity and inclusion from the Springboks and others

WC Joughin 25072023As I write this article, our Springboks, led by their inspirational captain Siya Kolisi, have just won the rugby world cup final for the fourth time, beating our traditional rivals, the All Blacks in the final. The journey has been tough for the talented and dedicated team, and stressful for the ardent South African fans. One-point winning margins and seizing the lead from extremely strong opposition in the dying seconds is not good for the hearts of the supporters, but the subsequent jubilation makes it worthwhile. Turning the game around requires team cohesion, confidence in the abilities of fellow players, and absolute commitment to each objective. When the stakes are high mistakes are made, but the team rallies together and provides support rather than criticism. Successes are hard-won and celebrated exuberantly. It is quite remarkable that this level of cohesion is achieved when the team is so diverse, with different backgrounds, races, shapes, sizes, and skills. There is obvious mutual respect among the players and recognition of their individual contributions toward a common goal.

This is an incredible achievement, particularly when you look back to the apartheid era when there were three separate rugby governing bodies, each representing a different racial group. At that time only the South African Rugby Board (SARB), which represented white people, had any say in international competitions, and selected the national team.

John Cruise’s 2011 paper on ‘The gender and racial transformation of mining engineering in South Africa’ summarizes the history of mining legislation ( Legislation in the South African minerals industry actively prevented racial and gender diversity. Women were not allowed to work underground after the promulgation of the 1911 Mines and Works Act. The objective at the time was to protect women and children from exploitation as labourers in mines. Certain racial groups were prevented from holding blasting certificates and other certificates of competency, and this was purely for job reservation. Since these certificates were necessary for more senior roles, it was not possible for these groups to progress in their career. These regulations were repealed during the 1990s to fall in line with the Constitution of South Africa.

Cruise describes the subsequent transformation of mining engineering education until 2010, which was quite rapid. He shows that the racial composition of mining graduates had reached the point at which it matched the country demographics. Gender ratios had improved from zero to around 30%, where they currently remain. Zelmia Botha’s presidential address last year highlighted the relatively low gender ratios (15% to 40%) in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) graduates worldwide, and the societal and environmental factors that contribute to the under-representation. While it remains a challenge to get to 50% representation, there are many women entering the minerals industry.

There is growing evidence to suggest that diverse companies are more innovative, creative, and commercially successful than non-diverse ones. Having a variety of skills, experiences, and knowledge will bring new and better ideas. However, proper inclusion is necessary to unlock the benefits to be gained from diversity. This requires empowering individuals to express their opinions and to pursue their ideas. Steve Jobs famously said ‘If you want to hire great people and have them stay working for you, you have to let them make a lot of decisions and you have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. The best ideas have to win, otherwise good people don’t stay.’ Leaders need to create a safe, equitable environment, which is free of bullying and harassment. They also need to recognize and celebrate successes. Employees should feel a sense of belonging.

The greatest contribution of a leader is to make other leaders’ Simon Sinek.

Successful and diverse leaders are role models, and attract diverse and talented employees.

W.C. Joughin

President, SAIMM

Facilitated Goodbyes

Facilitated Goodbyes
The ‘Adjourning’ Phase

Zelma Botha 31102022How to say goodbye? Working in the projects environment, I am familiar with ‘projects’ that have a very specific time limit. I know at some point in time, they must end. My time as the President of  the SAIMM is no different. This was a year of learning, of achievements, of meeting incredible people, and of beautiful change. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to say goodbye. During this time of handing over, I was reminded of the work done by Bruce Tuckman. He looked at the ‘Developmental Sequence in Small Groups’, which describes the path that teams follow on their way to high performance.

Usually, a high-performing team comprises excellent leaders. They say  the definition of a good leader is that when the leader is no longer in the room, the team still carries on without any upset. How does a good leader enable and empower their team to be a high-performing team, whether they are present or not?

On one of my mega projects, I was privileged to have a Project Manager that was invested in relationships and our team journey. He initiated a team journey, with specific activities, to support each of the phases described by Bruce Tuckman. The work I’m referencing, was the work of, and presented by, Karien van der Merwe (The Thrive Institute, Work Psychologist, specializing in group dynamics) and was facilitated by her as well.

It goes without saying that the various activities during the team journey, from ‘Forming’ to being a high-performance team (‘Performing’), shown in Figure 1, enabled our very successful adjourning.

Pres cnr 1 03102023

Figure 1

Nonetheless, I want to focus on specific activities that supports the ‘Adjourning’ phase. During this phase, there are members leaving the team, there are feelings of extreme uncertainty, there are responsibilities that shift and handovers that need to happen (Figure 2). It is important to facilitate the disconnection/disengagement of individuals during this time. Facilitated goodbyes, in the form of farewell functions, sessions where team members celebrate and share their learning, and voice appreciation and thanks to each other for the contributions they made in each other’s work-life-journeys, ensures more effective re-engagement on the next project and with future teams. Closure guarantees future engagement in a new environment.

All the change happening in the ‘Adjourning’ phase requires resilience from team members, and to build resilience we focused on celebrating, on highlighting accomplishments, on recognition (of both teams and individuals), and maybe the most important of all, we focused on lessons learned that we could take into the future (Figure 3).

Pres cnr 2 03102023

Figure 2 – Typical behaviour during the ‘Adjourning’ phase


Pres cnr 3 03102023

Figure 3 – Typical activities to support the team during the ‘Adjourning’ phase

I can, again, declare that the SAIMM is truly a family that supports transition and growth. During our year together the SAIMM family celebrated a new SAIMM podcast, a new student initiative, participation of more than 48 countries in our events, more than R3 million in sponsorship from our industry, and many, many more achievements.
And then, finally, a very big celebration of our new President, William Joughin. He believes that our assets are our people. He is a very concise, technical leader, who believes in knowledge and learning. He believes in empowerment, providing guidance and enabling learning. He has a hope for us, to keep growing and to develop our industry and technology. I am extremely excited to keep serving this year, under the guidance of William Joughin.

Z. Botha
President, SAIMM

A glass half full for SA for SA exploration and Mining

Zelma Botha 31102022As I looked into the future, I started thinking about exploration projects in South Africa. It made me curious since exploration has an immediate socio-economic impact on our country’s development. Every R1 billion spent on exploration by mining companies potentially contributes about R1.2 billion to the gross domestic product through direct, indirect, and induced impacts. For example, in 2019, mining contributed 7.8% to the gross domestic product, was the largest earner of foreign revenue, and directly employed 454 921 people. During March 2022, the mining industry marked the second most significant quarter-on-quarter increase of 2% in employment. Commentary in the literature suggests that for each mineworker employed, ten people are directly dependent on mining activity.

Without a vibrant exploration sector, the life of our industry will be finite. Even so, it seems that exploration activities in South Africa face quite a few challenges, among which financial challenges are mentioned the most. I would like to quote Roger Baxter, outgoing Minerals Council CEO.

‘ In the Toronto stock market, they’ve got 1600 listed junior resource companies. On the Sydney stock market, they’ve got about 600, and on the JSE, there are only about 12. Why the difference? Canadians have got a set of specific incentives that encourage the flow-through of venture capital funding from people from a tax perspective to invest in junior resource mining and their listing requirements are generally small and they raise capital, and they go and find deposits. In South Africa, our investment community are generally conservative and favour big mutual funds. Our return on a liquidated company is about 20c in the rand, whereas in a country like Canada, their liquidation and business rescue rules are quite different, so you get a much higher rate of return if you go into a failed company, even if it’s a junior resource company, which is venture capital funded. For some of the smaller companies, to list on any stock exchange is a very expensive business and the cost-benefit of listing on a stock exchange versus raising private equity capital may be a lot more to do on a stock market, so that’s why many are going the private route, but I think there are lessons we can learn from both Canada and Australia. South Africa’s fiscal framework still does not have the same incentives around encouraging junior resource companies to set up in South Africa or to look for capital in South Africa.’

Corroborating these statements, the literature often mentions lack of exploration investment as a key barrier to greenfield exploration activities in South Africa. Specifically, that the lack of listing of exploration companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) limits access to resources underpinning exploration activities. The lack of diversity of available fiscal/financial instruments for junior miners is a major risk. The literature also has ample commentary on regulatory and policy matters, very specifically mentioning the existing timeframes for exploration and the principle of ‘first come, first served’ as barriers.
So, what is necessary to move forward and create more opportunity and support for greenfield exploration in South Africa?

Figure 1 shows that our Minerals Council is interacting directly with Government to promote very important initiatives in our industry. First of all, increasing global market share through a cadastral system that would make it easier to apply for the relevant rights designated in the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA). During March 2023 the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), in collaboration with the State Information Technology Agency, issued a Request for Bids in respect of the design, implementation, maintenance, and support of an online mining licencing system to replace the SAMRAD system. If successful, this system could enhance regulatory certainty in the context of applications, speed, and efficiency of processing and dealing with issues of overlapping applications.

Also, tax incentives are necessary to attract investors into exploration ventures. The Canadians have been highly successful in developing these specialist junior exploration companies, largely by using the flow-through share tax incentive model to attract equity investors into the sector. During October 2020 the Minerals Council, in collaboration with advisors including Fasken, one of the largest business law firms in Canada, submitted a proposal to the National Treasury regarding the introduction of a local tax incentive based on the Canadian flow-through shares model, proposing tax incentives for purchases of equity in entities undertaking exploration activities.

Roger Baxter Minerals Council Q4 2022

Figure 1–Taken from Roger Baxter, Minerals Council, Q4 2022

To address regulatory barriers, there are recommendations on the table for appropriate amendments to the regulatory framework to allow for adequate data collection to enable a qualitative-based system (as opposed to ‘first come, first served’), whereby the processing of applications will be determined based on how best applicants will achieve the objectives of the MPRDA.

In summary, there is plenty of positive activity in our industry at the moment. The Minerals Council has been very active in facilitating engagements between the JSE and its junior, emerging, and exploration members and associations. Samuel Mokorosi from the JSE is attempting to make it easier for companies to get onto, and remain on, the exchange, while ensuring that investor protection is of the highest calibre. For example, the Junior Mining Accelerator Programme, aimed at introducing the smaller companies to financial markets and taking the complexity out of listing on the JSE. Two small black entrepreneurial exploration companies are already on the programme, and both have reported that it has really been beneficial. The Exploration Strategy for South Africa’s Mining Industry (Exploration Implementation Plan), published by the DMRE on 14 April 2022, is intended as a roadmap for us to achieve our objective of reviving South Africa’s appeal and market share in the global minerals sector. South Africa’s share of global exploration activity stood at 5% in 2003, but has now declined to below 1%. This comes at a time when the race for rare earth minerals and minerals of the future is at a critical point, thus making the strategic placement of mineral-rich countries a key focus.

At the time of doing this literature survey, there were some major new projects on the horizon, for example, a project by Hive Hydrogen (a partnership between UK-based Hive Energy and South Africa’s Built Africa) to establish a green ammonia export facility. The plant will be developed for an estimated US$4.6 billion (R70.5 billion) at the Coega Special Economic Zone in the Eastern Cape. The facility is expected to produce approximately 780 000 t of green ammonia per year from hydrogen through a process using renewable energy and nitrogen extracted utilizing an air separation unit. The first phase should start operation in 2025, with full operation planned for 2026. An Australian exploration and development mining firm, West Wits Mining, is looking at an underground gold mine in Gauteng. The DMRE approved the mining right application in July 2021. A scoping study estimates total resources at about 29.1 Mt, an average steady-state annual production of 80 000 ounces for 18 years, and a 22-year life-of-mine. The project will be implemented in five stages. The first, development of the Qala Shallows mining area, is underway following the completion of a feasibility study in September 2021. It is expected to provide a 40% of the total output. The estimated peak funding requirement for this stage is US$50 million (R767 million). In renewable energy, the DMRE has announced 25 projects as preferred bidders, of which 19 projects are led by or include foreign investors, as part of the Renewable Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP). These projects have a total estimated investment value of R38 billion and involve four major foreign firms.

I choose to focus on these very positive initiatives and I’m choosing to see a bright future for exploration in the South African mining industry.

Z. Botha
President, SAIMM

The neuroscience of high-performing teams

Zelma Botha 31102022I am going to be honest … I have a little bit of an obsession with neuroscience research and how that can be utilized to create high-performing teams. I have been exposed to this by a fantastic project manager and a brilliant industrial psychologist. Neuroscience can show us how we build relationships, react to our environment, respond to learning, and learn to work collaboratively. How do multiple, unique, and different individuals, each with their own perspective, ideas, thoughts, skills, and abilities, contribute to the success of a working, whole unit? I believe, for the most part, that a large sum of that success is how the team enables each member to feel included, valued, heard, and safe. Neuroscience can show us how to do this.

Knowing a little bit more about how neuroscience influences your own performance can help you contribute to the wellbeing of the whole team. Through scrutinizing neuroscientific research, Neurozone has identified all the drivers (outer sphere) and conditions (inner sphere) for optimal performance (Figure 1).


Figure 1–An example of a Neurozone Model, taken from a Neurozone report, April 2019. Since 2019 the Neurozone model has been updated. It now refers to high performance rhythms, not foundational drivers. When operating from a regulated state of being (the four high performing rhythms), social interaction will be easier to engage in


This ‘model’ shows granular responses of the internal system; small, nuanced behaviours that make up our complex response to our environments. This refers to the following: types of exercise and mobility, the components of sleep and mindfulness training, our emotional-energy-releasing responses (such as optimism, gratitude, enthusiasm, and humour), ways in which we learn and solve problems, as well as the ways that we ensure collective creativity through belonging, bonding, and mining diversity. This complexity and adaptability in response allow us to have many ways to solve a problem.

External changes require internal adaptations. If you know the ‘reprioritizing code’, then you can assign the most energy to the right behaviour, leading you to act in the best interest of not only yourself, but the group.

This is a very good description of building resilience. Resilience, of course, refers to adaptability and capacity to respond appropriately in changing situations. Resilience is not about personality; rather, it’s about behaviour. That’s why it is so important to continually assess and monitor behaviour so that you can ensure you get the highest yield for the energy ascribed to the tasks of living, surviving, and thriving.

Neuroscience, and more specifically the Neurozone model, supports the development of our capacity to maximize personal optimization so that we maximize other higher-order entities that we form, such as teams and organizations, by shining a light on the complex connections between the brain, nervous system, and immune system (This is taken from CEO and Co-Founder of Neurozone, Dr Etienne van der Walt, neurologist and a subject matter expert in clinical neurology, 5 July 2023).

I believe we desperately need to remember, and understand, that we are wired for connection and empathy. There is power and healing in relationships and community. Dr Bruce Perry, a renowned brain development and trauma expert, child psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and principal of the neurosequential model of brain-based therapy, has proven this in his book What Happened to You? (Perry, B.D. and Winfrey, O. 2021. Flatiron Books).

He says: ‘Marginalized people — excluded, minimized, shamed — are traumatized people, because as we’ve discussed, humans are fundamentally relational creatures. To be excluded from an organization, community, or society you are exposed to prolonged uncontrollable stress that is sensitizing.’

The key difference between team members NOT affected by trauma and those affected by trauma is that members ‘sensitized’ by trauma can escalate more quickly into states of dysregulation. In Figure 2 you can see how a sensitized person can easily end up in a state of fear or terror daily. 


Figure 2–Stress-reactive curve, taken from What Happened to You?, Perry, B.D.and Winfrey, O. 2021, Flatiron Books

As we move between different emotional states, from ‘Calm’ to ‘Terror’, the amount and type of access we have to our cognitive abilities changes. This is also confirmed in the book by Malcolm Gladwell, ‘Talking to Strangers’. We lose our ability to do creative problem-solving, with our prefrontal cortex, when we perceive ourselves to be under threat and we consequently move back into amygdala regulation, where we resort to freeze, flight, or fight, which not only leads to destructive conflict, but also complete disengagement (Figure 3).



Figure 3–Accessing the Cortex, taken from What Happened to You?, Perry, B.D.and Winfrey, O. 2021. Flatiron Books

How do we combat exclusion in a team? How do we ensure that one of our team members are not exposed to chronic stress?

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal (health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University), with her TED talk ranking under the 25 most popular TED Talks of all time (updated January 2023), shows that while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. She urges us to see stress as a positive and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others. Again, connection plays a crucial role in resilience. When any individual perceives the stress response to be chronic, their whole brain-body system will continually be in fight mode, which will lead to burnout, ill health, and ultimately, death. From a neurobiological perspective, the best protection against this is resilience. This capacity of the brain-body system to prevent implosion under severe stress is underpinned by the ability to belong and contribute to the group. To solve a problem or fashion novel products that are adapted for the group, promoting group survival and thrivability. We need forces that will foster a cohesive whole so that we can surpass the sum of its parts. According to Neurozone, there are four themes that could combat exclusion in a team and ensure that one of our team members are not exposed to chronic stress.

Are you practising this in your teams?

Table I
Four themes to ensure connection, inclusion, and resilience for high-performing teams. This is my own representation of work done by Dr Etienne van der Walt and his team at Neurozone.


Z. Botha
President, SAIMM

Giving YOU recognition

Zelma Botha 31102022 In my own environment, it’s that time of the year again where we purposefully, and in detail, give recognition to our team members that have gone above and beyond the call of duty. In the SAIMM it’s also that time of year where the current President reflects on the year that has passed and plans a seamless handover to the next President. While I was busy with these reflections, I realized that it is always about the team, about the support the team members give each other and their work to create a safe space for innovation to flourish.

It is therefore no surprise (for me, at least) that I dedicate this article to the people that make it happen. With this article, I want to encourage everyone, no matter where you are, to help build a culture of recognition, to share with everyone why recognition is so extremely important.

Humans have a natural psychological need for respect; to this I want to add validation, extrinsic recognition, and the knowledge that they matter, that they are seen. The acknowledgement of efforts and a job well done creates a sense of fulfilment, achievement, and belonging (The Power of Employee Recognition, Ramin Edmond1). I think extrinsic recognition has the power to dictate our perception of who we are and what our value is.

Why is external recognition so important?
Some of the data I found shows that, for example, among university students 15.6% of excellence award recipients originally wanted to withdraw their enrolment but were motivated to continue after recognition. Also, 92% of workers were inclined to repeat a specific action after receiving recognition for it (Bright Ewuru2). The data shows concepts like more job satisfaction, better performance, higher productivity, more engagement, reduced stress, and less absenteeism. There is also substantial evidence for the correlation between recognition and competition for talent. Close to a quarter of senior leaders say finding talent is one of the biggest challenges they’re faced with as managers (McKinsey and Company). High-recognition companies have ‘31% lower voluntary turnover than companies with poor recognition cultures’ (Deloitte Review, Issue 163).

prescorner1 30062023Figure 1–Taken from Claire Hastwell, co-author of Women in the Workplace, Creating a Culture of Recognition ( resources/blog/creating-a-culture-of-recognition)

Quantifying the benefits
The remarkable power of recognition lies in the plethora of benefits it offers.

  1. Recognition creates greater employee engagement; 53% of employees will stay longer in a company if they feel appreciated, 53% will be more focused on their work, and 59% more engaged in their work.
  2. Morale boost, improved performance and productivity. A genuine ‘thank you’ can ignite a 69% increase in the likelihood of employees bringing extra effort to their work. Compared to those who do not consistently feel recognized at work, people who do feel recognized are twice as likely to say that people [in their organization] are willing to go above and beyond. Companies with engaged employees are 21% more profitable because their employees are 17% more productive (Gallup).
  3. Increased employee retention. A lack of employee recognition is the most common reason why people leave their jobs (Gallup). When people feel recognized and valued, they’re more likely to be happy with their jobs and stay with their organization. Just 37% of US workers say they’re happy with how much they get recognized and acknowledged at work, making it one of the most disappointing factors for workers (The Conference Board).
  4. Innovation, innovation, innovation! Recognition spurs innovation. Compared to those who do not consistently feel recognized at work, people who do feel recognized are 2.2 times more likely to drive innovation and bring new ideas forward (Figure 2).
  5. With a healthy recognition culture, team members are 2.6 times more likely to think that promotions are fair (Figure 2). During the Trust Index™ survey, when asked what makes their workplace ‘great’, employees who responded positively to survey questions (measuring recognition) said that they were ‘incredibly lucky’ that the company had ‘excellent integrity’ and an ‘uplifting environment’, and some mentioned their ‘career success’. Conversely, employees who didn’t feel recognized at work responded to the same question with phrases such as ‘plays favouritism’ and ‘popularity contest’.

These benefits are summarized from work done by Bright Ewuru, 12 October 2022; The Power of Employee Recognition, Ramin Edmond, 28 November 2022; Creating a Culture of Recognition, Claire Hastwell, 2 March 2023; 5 ways to harness the power of recognition, by Michele McGovern, 21 April 2023; The Energy Project; and Harvard Business Review. They are also based on the Great Place To Work® Trust Index™ survey, Great Place To Work, which analysed 1.7 million employee survey responses gathered between 2018 and 2020 across small, mid-sized, and large companies.

What should recognition look like?
Here are a few best practices from the literature.

1. Define the goals of the employee recognition programme. Why do you want to implement a culture of recognition? Think about standards in your organization, promoting a culture of appreciation and respect, boosting employee retention or enhancing your brand. 

prescorner2 30062023Figure 2–Taken from Claire Hastwell, co-author of Women in the Workplace, Creating a Culture of Recognition ( resources/blog/creating-a-culture-of-recognition)

2. Share the criteria. It’s essential to bring every team member on board. If the company leaders demonstrate enthusiasm for the programme and exhibit commendable behaviours, team members will follow.

3. Be very clear and specific about the criteria; be transparent about what you want to reward and how employees can achieve it. Clarifying the rules maintains the integrity of the employee reward programme and gives your team members a good idea of where they need to focus their efforts. Also, recognition is more meaningful when tied to a specific accomplishment or business objective. Refer to an exact action, behaviour, or idea and how it positively affected colleagues, a project, the company, etc. Try to cite the exact time and place it happened. Then focus heavily on the positive impact it will continue to have on the external factors. When being specific, attempt to connect to the bigger picture.

4. Determine frequency. According to a study conducted by Deloitte, 85% of professionals want to hear ‘thank you’ in daily interactions. The regular provision of rewards and praise fosters a culture of appreciation while increasing employees’ zeal and motivation. The key to having a positive impact is consistency and honesty. It’s critical for any manager to schedule time and resources to honour a culture of recognition. Also consider being timeous – recognition that arrives months after the fact isn’t nearly as meaningful as recognition received promptly. The longer it takes for managers to recognize employees, the less likely employees will see the affirmations as authentic.

5. If you’re running a multi-faceted programme or simply want to manage your recognition programme more effectively, consider employee recognition software. This can help you organize your programme, easily accept and judge nominations in one easy hub, and streamline your entire management process. AI, machine learning, and advanced analytics give us greater insight than we’ve ever had into employees’ diverse needs, interests, and behaviours. There are AI tools that can analyse keywords and emojis sent via office instant messaging platforms to get a feel for the team’s overall morale. Other tools can track a combination of real-time job performance, feedback from employees, and surveys to pinpoint which employees are deserving of recognition. The global hotel chain Hilton provides managers with an annual Recognition Calendar that features 365 no-cost and low-cost, easy-to-implement ideas for thanking employees. The calendar includes reminders and tips for enterprise-wide brand, and department recognition programsmes, appreciation best practices, important dates like International Housekeeping Week, and recognition quotes to share with employees. It also allows users to add employee service anniversaries and local events. Users can download a print-friendly PDF or import an Outlook-friendly file into their personal calendars.

6. Recognition goes up, down, and sideways. By encouraging rewards and recognition throughout the organization you create and reinforce a culture of appreciation. It also increases the number of opportunities for employees to receive recognition by widening the pool of potential recognizers. Examples from the literature are the software company Atlassian with their Kudos programme, the law firm Alston & Bird LLP, which uses its quarterly newsletter to share the ways that team members are engaging with the surrounding community, and Ally Financial’s ‘I am an Ally’ award programme, which invites team members to nominate colleagues for their contributions and impact.

7. Operationalize and socialize recognition. Schedule a point on regular meeting agendas for employees to thank their colleagues. Or perhaps install a virtual bulletin board where employees can celebrate their co-workers’ successes. This also encourages internal communication. Let them know you want them to speak up and share ideas, then give them credit for when their ideas make an impact. Employees who feel their voices are heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered and perform their best work (Salesforce).

8. Assess the programme’s effectiveness. After all is said and done, you should gauge the outcome of your employee recognition programme. The assessment process can measure such areas as employee retention, morale, engagement, and productivity. If there is a lack in any area, it will be revealed and necessary adjustments can then be made.

There is considerable information on the power of recognition out there; therefore, my question is: what resources are your organization utilizing to encourage a culture of recognition?

And then, something I am looking forward to immensely is our own two sessions where we would like to give recognition to everyone that makes the SAIMM great. Please join us for our TP Cocktail Evening and our SAIMM AGM. I look forward to recognizing everyone that makes the SAIMM a family!

Z. Botha
President, SAIMM

The Carbon Tax Conundrum

Zelma Botha 31102022In a moment of complete honesty, I want to admit that I am writing about something that I know absolutely nothing about, and I want to invite you to join this conversation with me.

One of the challenges that I recently became aware of is the policy, which was introduced by the government in June 2019, aimed at reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the impact of climate change. I am of course talking about the South African Carbon Tax. This is a price set on carbon dioxide emissions that companies and industries generate during their operations. The tax is levied on the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions that are released into the atmosphere. The aim of the tax is to encourage companies to reduce their emissions by switching to cleaner technologies and adopting sustainable practices.

The tax is aimed at creating a financial incentive for companies to reduce their emissions, and the revenue generated from the tax should be used to fund initiatives that promote energy efficiency and renewable energy. In short, it should be a policy instrument in line with international commitments, a source of revenue that can be used to support initiatives that promote renewable energy, which will in turn create new opportunities for businesses and boost job creation.

However, the implementation of the tax has faced criticism from some quarters. Since January 2022, the carbon tax rate has been around US$8.3 per ton of CO2e. In line with South Africa’s commitments at COP26, the carbon tax rate is set to progressively increase every year to reach US$20 per ton by 2025. In the second phase from 2026 onwards, the carbon tax rate will have larger annual increases to reach at least US$30 per ton by 2030.

In a study published in the Mail & Guardian during 2022, Bohlmann et al. show that the possible negative impact of the carbon tax on economic growth is minimized when the revenue is recycled back into the economy. Another study by Bohlmann, published in the South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences in 2016, shows that recycling of carbon tax revenue will only reduce the extent of emissions if tax revenue recycling supports economic growth. According to their model, the manner in which carbon tax revenue is recycled back into the economy is therefore important in terms of the extent of emissions reductions achieved. Is the South African carbon tax revenue being recycled efficiently? Or even correctly?

This provoked quite a few other questions in my mind. Are we, in the minerals and metals industry, adequately informed to answer questions about any carbon tax policy, national or global? Or are we projecting negativity due to the general discontent with the current state of affairs – economic, social, and political?
What is our definition of recycling tax revenue ‘efficiently’? Does this depend on perspective? If carbon tax revenue is recycled into the general fiscus to support the Basic Income Grant in a country with an unemployment rate of 35% to 50%, does this make sense to us?
Is the minerals and metals industry clear on their expectations of and from the South African Carbon Tax policy? What exactly do we want as professionals and as an Industry?

I believe the SAIMM should be creating a platform to open discussions around this. We should be assisting our industry through educating, informing, and providing thought leadership on topics crucial to the success of sustainable transition.

I want to call on our members and stakeholders who clearly understand the national carbon taxation strategy to become involved in the conversation. I want to understand what the options are that we as an Industry have. Do we have an option to influence the policy and the tax revenue recycling at all? Can we ask for assistance to analyse the positive and negative aspects of our current strategy and its execution?

I believe that the carbon tax is necessary to change user behaviour and to reduce climate impact. However, we can still develop ways to ensure business viability while doing so. The SAIMM will be hosting a Carbon Tax Colloquium where we will be asking these questions, and we invite everyone to become a part of the conversation.

Z. Botha President,

To empower or not to empower – That is the Question

Zelma Botha 31102022I want to take a moment and talk about the concepts of empowerment, growth, agency, and actualization. I strongly believe that anyone can be a leader, anywhere, at any given time. Martin Luther King Jr said: ‘a leader is an individual who has the ability to influence a group of individuals in achieving a common goal.’ I also believe that if any member of a team wants to achieve a common goal, they want to do value-adding work, they want to see how they effect change and how their ideas bear fruit.

My question is, how do you, as a leader, step back and allow your team members to not only identify the problem on their own, but also solve that specific problem? How do you, as a leader, work with failure and rising strong?

Leadership and how we work with power go hand in hand. The absolute worst experiences in my life and my career were when I felt powerless. When I believed I had absolutely no resources and no tools to overcome hardship or address challenges. Again, looking towards Martin Luther King Jr, he defined power as the ability to achieve purpose and effect change.

When you’re a leader you have a responsibility to bring out the best in your employees, not to control their outputs. Controlling your team members will only encourage the fear of missing targets or losing that bonus, or worst of all, the fear of failure. I believe the key to successful leadership, as Peter Drucker so elegantly put it, is for leaders to sometimes get out of the way. ‘90% of what we call management,‘ Drucker said, ‘consists of making it difficult for people to get things done.’ This prompts the question, what do leaders need to do? Paint a picture of a better future; help determine the path to achieving that future and then create a safe space and an open environment that will empower your team members to grow, innovate, and win.

I believe this will require you to give your power away.

Power itself is neither good nor bad. It’s all about how you, as a leader, work with power. In the words of Brene Brown: ‘Power over is driven by fear. Daring and transformative leaders share power with, empower people to, and inspire people to develop power within.’

Brown explains it in this way. When you want power over, when you want to control, you will believe that power is finite and use fear to protect your own power. You will leverage fear to divide and devalue basic decency. You will give people experiencing fear and uncertainty a false sense of conviction of your control over them. Being right will be more important to you than getting it right. You will encourage a blame culture.

When you want to give power to and instill power within, you will believe that the team becomes more powerful when power is shared. You will leverage the power of relationships and connection. You will create a culture of learning. You will move away from blame to a culture of ownership. You will think of leadership as serving others.

In the book Alive at Work D.M.Cable1 explains that one of the ways to achieve empowerment is to adopt the humble mindset of a servant-leader. Servant-leaders view their key role as serving employees as they explore and grow, providing tangible and emotional support as they do so. I think the most important definition, in this book, of a servant-leader was that this type of leader has the humility, courage, and insight to admit that they can benefit from the expertise of others who have less power than them. It was encouraging to read the theory that servant-leadership acknowledges the responsibility of a leader to increase the ownership, autonomy, and responsibility of all team members.
In an article about the book, Alive at Work, the author refers to two case studies.

Case study 1
A study of a UK food delivery service found that the engagement of its drivers was dipping while management was becoming increasingly metric-driven in an effort to reduce costs and improve delivery times. Managers held weekly performance debriefs with drivers and went through a list of problems, complaints, and errors with a clipboard and pen. Eventually, the drivers, many of whom had worked for the company for decades, became resentful. However, this traditional model was disrupted by newer delivery companies and the management team of the case study company decided that things needed to change. The company needed to compete on great customer service, but needed the support of its employees who provided the service. And management needed ideas that could make the company more competitive. The new approach? Instead of nit-picking problems, each manager was trained to simply ask their drivers, ‘How can I help you deliver excellent service?’ Some drivers started to offer suggestions. For example, one driver suggested new products like yogurt and fun string cheese that parents could get delivered early and pop into their kids’ lunches before school. Another driver thought of a way to report stock shortages more quickly so that customers were not left without the groceries they ordered. Small changes created a virtuous cycle. As the drivers got credit for their ideas and saw them put into place, they grew more willing to offer more ideas, which made the depot managers more impressed and more respectful, which increased the delivery people’s willingness to give ideas, and so on. These innovations helped the company deliver better customer service.

Case study 2
When Jungkiu Choi moved from Singapore to China to start as head of Consumer Banking at Standard Chartered, he learned that one of the cultural expectations that his new job entailed was to visit the branches and put pressure on branch managers to cut costs. Jungkiu changed the nature of these visits. Instead of emphasizing his formal power, he started showing up at branches unannounced, and starting his visit by serving breakfast to the branch employees. Then, Jungkiu would hold ‘huddles’ and ask how he could help employees improve their branches. Jungkiu’s approach reduced employees’ anxiety and encouraged ideation and innovative ideas. Over the course of one year, Jungkiu visited over eighty branches in twenty-five cities. The huddles exposed many simple ‘pain points’ that he could easily help remediate. These experiments paid off in terms of company performance. Customer satisfaction increased by 54% during the two-year period of Jungkiu’s humble leadership. Complaints from customers were reduced by 29% during the same period. The employee attrition ratio, which had been the highest among all of the foreign banks in China, was reduced to the lowest.

My question to you is; do you empower your team members? Are you creating a culture of learning and growth? Do your team members have agency and actualization? As our own leader, Nelson Mandela, explained: ‘A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.’

Z. Botha
President, SAIMM

A Culture of Growth*

How do we establish a culture of economic growth in South Africa?
*This article is based on literature only, this is not my own work, but built on the wonderful work already out there in the public domain

Zelma Botha 31102022I received a great amount of feedback on my previous article, ‘The Burning Question’, and it seems like most of my colleagues are concerned about the lack of growth opportunities within South Africa. What stimulates economic growth in any social setting? I enjoyed an article from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, by Dr Tony Ngwenya, where he states that with a population of about 350 000 people, Iceland has one of the lowest Gini coefficient ratios (a measure of statistical dispersion intended to represent the wealth inequality within a social setting) in the world. South Africa is approximately 160 times larger than Iceland, but it is very apparent that we do not share the same rate of entrepreneurial inclusivity. So naturally this prompts the question: what structural impediments cause South Africa to lag behind a country 160 times smaller than itself?

It’s difficult to answer this question, since I’m not sure what it is that stimulates economic growth and creates economic opportunity. According to the Global Competitiveness Index Report (2018/2019), infrastructure and primary education can be categorized as major contributors in the case of South Africa. In various other articles, mention is also made of access to finance, as well as an entrepreneurial curriculum from an early stage, which confirms the Global Competitiveness Index Report’s mention of primary education.

One point was very clear – there is a great call for entrepreneurship to become the main engine that drives growth in South Africa. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) states that many of the world’s governments, think tanks, and international organizations now look towards entrepreneurship as the solution to ending social inequity, promoting women’s empowerment, and implementing business solutions to the world’s environmental challenges (5 ways we can build South African entrepreneurship in the ‘new economy’, Published August 2020, by Bheki Mfeka).

This seems to be a very tall order indeed!

Entrepreneurship involves an individual identifying an opportunity and then using their ability and motivation to grow their business, bearing most of the risks and enjoying most of the profits. The entrepreneur is commonly seen as a source of new ideas, goods, services, and business. I can only imagine that such an individual will need to be planted in very fertile ground to be able to grow a new business that will empower women and end social inequity. This fertile ground that I’m referring to is called an entrepreneurial culture.

Does South Africa have this? A healthy entrepreneurial culture? Unfortunately, I don’t believe we do.
Entrepreneurial culture can be described as an environment where someone is motivated to innovate and take risks (EFEB Network, Greek Association of Women Entrepreneurs). It is also described as a set of values, skills, and power of a group that is characterized by risk (Qaiser et al., 2019, Factors affecting “entrepreneurial culture”, Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship). Clearly, the definition of this specific culture shows that the environment must support active risk-taking. How is this established? Christo Botes (from Business Partners) says entrepreneurship is moulded by intention, opportunity, skills, and resources (article by Tom Jackson, September 2016). However, although 40.9% of South African adults perceived good entrepreneurial opportunities, and 45.4% perceived they had the capabilities to start a business; only 7% of entrepreneurs were engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activity in 2015. Why is there such an immense disconnect? Furthermore, the 2015-2016 GEM South Africa report shows a very low mean score of 2.8 in terms of encouraging entrepreneurial risk-taking. That is an astronomical gap between perception, execution, and support.

Could it possibly be that we do not accept and buffer failure and that we do not encourage, especially our youth, to learn from failure? It seems that our failure rate in the small, micro, and medium enterprises (SMMEs) sector is fairly high. This sector has been identified as a key vehicle for addressing low levels of unemployment and economic growth, despite the formidable challenges this sector face.

The Business Monitor International (BMI) survey estimated that an average of 80% of the collapsed entities in 2013 were owned by non-matric holders (Amra et al., 2013). The most successful, innovative, and more labour-absorptive small businesses were those that were run by educated and skilled owners and personnel. Despite the well documented significance of training, 90% of a sample of 100 small business entrepreneurs dismissed the need for skills training (Fatoki, 2012). This simply confirms what Christo Botes recommends: more emphasis on business and entrepreneurial-based education in schools via formalized programmes and additions to the national curriculum. I agree with this statement – relying solely on tertiary education to instil enthusiasm for entrepreneurship in graduates is unrealistic.

What if I’m no longer in primary school? What if I’m not even a graduate? I am in fact already an employee. In this case, literature recommends that employees should be given a chance to participate in decision-making that contributes towards company goals. Incorrect decisions should be inspected so that there is an opportunity to learn for them. Again, knowledge (training) of employees should be updated as they must be familiar with new research in their specific area (Qaiser et al., 2019). It might be prudent to ask if your company allows this. Research from the University of Birmingham shows that when employees feel they have control over their work environment, they are also more likely to come up with ideas on how to improve the company. It is definitely clear that the competencies associated with entrepreneurship are shaped and determined by the skills set acquired both formally and informally. Our South African policy-makers need to self-reflect in terms of the training our entrepreneurs have access to and the skills they acquire, so that they can outsmart their global counterparts in the bigger entrepreneurial schemes.

So, where do we want to be? Where should South Africa be going? I want this country to become a net exporter of value-added manufactured goods and shift away from the simple pit-to-port model. This is my wish for our country.

Z. Botha
President, SAIMM

The Burning Question: Where is the grass greener?

Zelma Botha 31102022During the festive season of 2022, I came face to face with the question: to stay or not to stay? Given the context of a skilled engineer, working in the South African minerals industry, how does an individual make this decision?

The question around the security of our own infrastructure still hangs in the air. How will this impact our minerals industry’s growth prospects? Reports are conflicting, some saying the minerals industry is in a downward spiral with its ninth consecutive month of decline in October 2022. Three top challenges always mentioned are erratic power supply and Transnet woes, both port and rail.

Other reports show that the industry’s financial performance exceeded expectations: distributions to shareholders more than doubled, capital expenditure grew by more than 30%, taxes paid increased by more than 10%, and record commodity prices reached for the platinum group metals basket, iron ore, and coal.

Again, given the conflicting reports and the uncertainty around South African infrastructure, how do highly skilled individuals in the South African minerals industry make the decision: to stay or not to stay?

According to the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs, more than
914 ,000 South African citizens emigrated between 2015 and 2020, which is basically three times as many than in previous years. New World Immigration (Pty) Ltd statistics show that almost three quarters of enquiries come from highly skilled and qualified professionals, while 30% of applicants were tradesmen.

Data from across the globe shows more than 201 000 South Africans living in Australia at the end of 2021 (2 230 more than in 2020); Canada welcomed 25 000 South African citizens between 2015 and 2020; in just the first half of 2022, 11 300 South Africans had their New Zealand residency applications approved; the UK Home Office shows that between Q1 2020 and Q3 2021, more than 5 800 citizenship grants were awarded to South Africans; and in the USA, more than 650 South Africans obtained resident status in 2022 (more than 2 300 passing in 2021). According to a study commissioned by the Inclusive Society Institute during 2021, 11.13% of South Africans with higher education indicated that they were seriously considering emigrating within the next two years.

What is the impact of this ‘brain drain’ on the minerals industry?

During April 2022, the South African government announced plans to change its data collection systems to get a better idea of how many skilled South Africans are leaving the country. The proposal noted that the country has seen an outflow of valuable skills in several sectors. It added that the emigration of skilled South Africans has not been addressed efficiently through any specific policy and constitutes a growing problem in certain sectors. Various society leaders have expressed concern about the fact that those who emigrate make up a large part of South Africa’s skilled labour.

Life-changing decisions are never easy and one might even believe that freedom lies in the absence of choice. Nonetheless, I want to make a plea for South Africa. Acknowledging that all is relative and highly dependent on the comparison made (for example: emerging countries or markets vs mature, established, first-world economies), South Africa is one of the countries with the lowest cost of living, For example: our consumer prices are 40% lower than in London, rent is 60% lower, dining out will cost you 50% less, and groceries prices are 30% lower than in London. Although our stringent labour law policies may challenge South African employers, they do give employees a high level of job security, ensuring fair treatment. South Africa also has lower costs of tertiary ducation and child care. Given the crippling health care challenges Britain faces (due to surging inflation coupled with almost 10 years of stagnant wage growth), I am thankful for our health care system. On the UHC index developed by the World Health Organization, comprising 14 tracer indicators, South Africa’s score has almost doubled in the past 20 years, reaching 67 (on a scale of 0–100) in 2019.

Above and beyond all of this, I am thankful to be part of the SAIMM and for the support we give to our young professionals, entering our minerals industry, through our SAIMM-YPC. We focus on supporting scholars through career guidance, supporting them in mathematics, science, and tutoring in life skills. We also focus on our graduates, supporting them in selection processes and bridging the gap between theory (getting the degree) and practical execution in the industry. We continue our support with conferences on best practices, training, mentoring, and development programmes. The SAIMM is committed to influencing other bodies (for example ECSA) to the benefit of all stakeholders, especially our young professionals. Maybe most important of all, we support entrepreneurial activities that will serve the requirements of our young professionals.

Social comparison has its roots in evolution, it is a human condition, and I will continue comparing grass to determine where it is greener; therefore, I will come face to face again with the question: to stay or not to stay? I wish everyone wisdom in answering this question and wherever you might find yourself during 2023, I wish everyone a year of collaboration, growth, and development.

Z. Botha
President, SAIMM

The final word with a little help from Whitman

Isabel Gendenhuys 17022022Walt Whitman a renowned American poet, essayist, and journalist, wrote the remarkable poem ‘O Me! O Life!’ in which he talks about the purpose of life. This famous poem was first published in 1867 during a time of quite dramatic technological change in the world. The poem speaks about the struggle of humanity and spotlights our struggle to understand the purpose of life. One could easily feel hopeless if you stop reading after the first verse. Whitman chooses a powerful metaphor in the concluding lines that follow the enigmatic second stanza, that merely reads: ‘Answer.’ Without hesitation Whitman chose not to leave the reader without hope. He chooses to tell us that we all matter. We all matter because we are here.

‘That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.’

Whitman equates life and existence to a ‘powerful play,’ and that each person may contribute to this play. The 1989 movie Dead Poets Society features Robin Williams in the role of an enigmatic and passionate teacher. In one of the most memorable scenes, the character played by Williams, delivers the same Whitman poem to his students. And he concludes, in a near whisper: ‘What will your verse be? What will your verse be?’

Powerful stuff! Set against the Whitman poem this scene really impacted me back in 1989 when I saw this movie for the first time. Whitman’s poem and the eloquent presentation thereof stayed with me throughout my life. I’ve always visualized my life as a verse in the ‘powerful play’ as evinced by the Whitman poem. When I researched the scene for this article, I found the movie clip on YouTube, and as I watched the scene start, I experienced a profound and incontrovertible truth - words and ideas still matter. As a young adult/teenager the question posed at the end of the scene, impacted my thinking and life profoundly. Yet, this time around the powerful opening words to the scene made me pause: ‘No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.’

It is coming full circle. As the President, I’ve shared many thoughts and ideas over the past year. It has been a privilege to write this article every month, despite the pressures of a monthly deadline amid a hectic schedule. The process was incredibly rewarding, allowing me to share ideas and words with readers. But more importantly, many, many people shared their ideas and words with me. I experienced the power of words and ideas first-hand and was frequently left in awe of the amazing volunteers that creates life within the Institute. The SAIMM has travelled a tough and challenging road over the past two years. But I see the green shoots emanating from the hard work of the SAIMM team, the volunteers, and the committees starting to appear. In-person events are back on the calendar, and it is with excitement that I look forward to going to a conference again. I think we all look forward to appreciating the things we took for granted before the pandemic.

Members continue to support the Institute with their time and talent, their words and ideas, and it is through these efforts that the Institute stands as a beacon of knowledge and professionalism. Through the power of words and ideas we change the world. I conclude this year with a deep appreciation and gratitude to all who contributed and continue to contribute to the SAIMM’s verse. Thank you for the support and feedback from all corners of the world, helping, guiding, and sometimes just supporting. It was an amazing privilege to serve the Membership over the past year and I know I can pass the torch to Zelmia with confidence and excitement as we celebrate the transition.

From me, my final words in this role: Thank you!

I.J. Geldenhuys
President, SAIMM