Sovereign Metals, Nominee for the Emerging ESG Leader for an Explorer/Developer, 2023 Africa Award
By AAMEG | 5 September 2023
Sovereign Metals is an ASX listed minerals development company operating in Malawi with its head office in Perth, Western Australia. The Company is developing the Kasiya rutile-graphite deposit – the largest rutile deposit and second largest flake graphite deposit in the world. The PFS for Kasiya is due for publication in September 2023. Kasiya contains a mineral resource of 1.8 billion tonnes at 1.01% rutile and 1.32% graphite (Indicated + Inferred).
Sovereign’s ESG initiative in Africa focuses on diversity and labour practices, with positive flow-on impacts in other areas including community, education and training, water resource use and access to clean water.
The Company has constructed an international standard rutile processing laboratory in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital city in order to process the very large number of drilling samples generated.
The laboratory has required training and development of Sovereign’s skilled workforce numbering 80 people in total which is a very large number for a company in pre-mining stage.
Sovereign faced a significant issue in that it did not have access to trained professionals and skilled labour for the staffing of its large laboratory facility and exploration/development activities in Malawi. Further, as geology/metallurgy/mining/exploration etc are not traditional fields for females in Malawi, very few professionals or skilled women were available.
INITIATIVE: LIFTING QUOTAS TO EMPOWER WOMEN IN MINING IN MALAWI
Sovereign is committed to fostering equal opportunity and gender diversity within its workforce. Through its laboratory and exploration initiatives in Malawi, the company has generated significant employment and training prospects for women. Presently, 21 or 26% of the total workforce comprises women. Additionally, among the professional staff, 3 or 30% are women. Notably, the Laboratory Manager is a woman, a testament to Sovereign’s commitment to breaking gender barriers.
With the goal of achieving a 50% female workforce representation, Sovereign continues to provide significant opportunities for women in terms of employment, education, training and career advancement.
INTERNSHIP PROGRAM NURTURING FUTURE TALENT
- Sovereign, in collaboration with number of universities in Malawi that offer Geology (Earth Science), Metallurgy and Geological Engineering studies, is providing an internship program that offers exposure and training in geological field work eg data collection, sample collection, mapping, core logging etc.
- At the laboratory in Lilongwe, interns gain experience and exposure to different mineral analysis techniques and best practice to maintain integrity of samples and the subsequent results.
- Interns are regularly placed into permanent employment. To date, a total of 32 interns have been placed in minimum 3 months terms with Sovereign. A total of 13 or 41% of the interns are female.
SCHOLARSHIPS PROVIDING EQUITABLE ACCESS TO EDUCATION
- Sovereign is acutely aware of the difficulties rural communities experience with regards to access to quality primary and secondary schooling.
- The Company initiated a scholarship program through which some of the best primary school students from Kabudula and Khongoni communities were selected for enrolment and financial support. The program includes school fees and emotional and other support necessary to keep students focused on their education.
- Currently, the company is supporting 8 students (4 male and 4 female) and during the first year (2022).
- The timing of the commencement of scholarship program was fortuitous in that it prevented one of the selected female students from dropping out of school due to lack of funds.
SUSTAINABLE WATER MANAGEMENT
- As part of its ESG framework, Sovereign is also committed to the responsible management of water within its operations. Sovereign’s lab is a large consumer of water, typically using 2,000 to 5,000 litres of water per day. The company has developed a water settling and recycling system that typically results in most water being able to be recovered and recycled with zero discharges to the environment.
- In addition, Traditional Authorities at Khongoni and Kabudula highlighted access to safe and clean drinking water as one of their most urgent needs. The company responded by constructing 7 new water boreholes in the most needy areas and has also embarked on another program whereby existing boreholes are being repaired and maintained.
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