DRDGOLD Limited (DRDGOLD; JSE, NYSE: DRD) has issued the following response to a report launched this morning by the Bench Marks Foundation, entitled ‘Waiting to Inhale’:
Johannesburg, South Africa. 29 August 2017. DRDGOLD Limited (DRDGOLD; JSE, NYSE: DRD) has issued the following response to a report launched this morning by the Bench Marks Foundation, entitled ‘Waiting to Inhale’:
“DRDGOLD has recently received the Bench Marks Foundation’s (BMF) report, entitled Waiting to Inhale.
“As an opening remark we have to record our disappointment that BMF again failed to engage with us in the compilation of its report, even after such engagement was offered.
“A second, and perhaps even more important concern, is the lack of independent, credible research in support of the allegations BMF levels against our operating footprint and the effect it has on surrounding communities.
“At the outset, we wish to place on record, that our aim – as a company – is to improve the quality of life of those living within our areas of influence. This means that, in addition to investments we make in social and economic capital, we seek to preserve, protect and even improve the state of the footprint on which we operate (in many instances an inherited legacy) in order to also yield a nature dividend.
“To this end, we have rehabilitated and vegetated dumps at a cost of hundreds of millions of Rands in the last 10 years. This has brought about a very significant decline in dust emissions from these dumps – to the point where, this year, there were fewer than five exceedances of the regulatory thresholds, the fact that it was one of the driest years in history notwithstanding. (A recent set of photographs on the state of these dumps will be placed on our website shortly).
“Another reality that we face as a company and a country is urbanisation and the growth of informal settlements. In many cases, both formal and informal settlements have encroached on land that has been designated as industrial. The recommendation of a 2 000m buffer between residential areas and mine dumps has largely been ignored by the authorities, as has the requirement that no dwellings may be erected closer than 500m to a mine dump. Today, urban developments accommodating between 300 000 and 400 000 people have encroached to within the buffer zones.
“There are various points made repeatedly throughout the report and on which the BMF has made recommendations which we will address:
“Another comment made is that communities are inadequately informed. DRDGOLD is party to two forums – the Ergo forum in the east, the Crown forum in the west. These forums meet regularly with community representation and varying levels of community participation. The minutes of the DRDGOLD/Riverlea Community Forum included in BMF’s report shows how extensive information-sharing, discussion and posing and answering of questions is at such meetings. We do get a sense, though, that while the information sharing at the forum is extensive, further distribution of information into the greater stakeholder base is limited. DRDGOLD is therefore investigating launching a social media platform for information-sharing into a far broader stakeholder base. A great source of frustration for the company is the burning of vegetation which causes significant damage to infrastructure and sets back the progress made. A welcome intervention would be for communities to assume part-responsibility to intervene when they witness attempts to sabotage our work and to also provide guidance to community members to act responsibly.
“Despite the fact that BMF has chosen, again, not to engage with DRDGOLD, or to confirm its facts, or to undertake valid research, our door remains open to engage, provided such engagement is open, honest and fair.”
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Many factors could cause the actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements that may be expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, including, among others, adverse changes or uncertainties in general economic conditions in the markets we serve, a drop in the gold price, a sustained strengthening of the Rand against the Dollar, regulatory developments adverse to DRDGOLD or difficulties in maintaining necessary licenses or other governmental approvals, changes in DRDGOLD’s competitive position, changes in business strategy, any major disruption in production at key facilities or adverse changes in foreign exchange rates and various other factors. These risks include, without limitation, those described in the section entitled “Risk Factors” included in our annual report for the fiscal year ended 30 June 2016, which we filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission on 31 October 2016 on Form 20-F. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date thereof. We do not undertake any obligation to publicly update or revise these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this report or to the occurrence of unanticipated events. Any forward-looking statements included in this release have not been reviewed and reported on by DRDGOLD’s auditors.