Global mining major Anglo American’s recently launched green-focused fund is set to rectify an inherent market failure that has prevented the entry of sustainable and innovative green technologies and concepts into the local market.
Speaking to Engineering News at the launch of the R100-million Zimele Green Fund in November, Anglo American head of sustainable development and energy Samantha Hoe-Richardson explained that the green fund would target investment opportunities in innovations that mitigate carbon emissions, reduce energy and water consumption, and improve waste and emissions management.
She noted that technologies addressing community issues such as water, energy and agri- culture have not entered the market at a sufficient rate, and added that the mining group was committed to finding community- based environmental sustainability solutions.
“We have been aware for some time that sustainable mining is underpinned by sustainable communities and, while we focus heavily on saving energy, reducing water consumption and decreasing emissions in our own activities, we cannot focus on our own problems exclusively,” she said.
Richardson added that South Africa’s reliance on coal-fired energy placed the country in a particularly vulnerable position, and was emphatic that collaboration with local communities and alignment with government policy would contribute to the climate change offensive.
“The significance of this fund is that we, as Anglo American, can leverage our scale to access international funding for climate change strategies, which would be a near impossibility for a small local community. They would, for example, struggle to obtain carbon credits, which our organ- isation can secure,” she said.
Anglo American Zimele chief investment manager Dr Lia Vangelatos added, at the launch, that the fund was in no way a charity and to be considered for inclusion, entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized enterprises must have an established action plan and implementable ideas.
“The focus of the fund is on enterprise development and investment; we invest in a company, but we do want our money back,” she explained.
Further, Vangelatos explained that the fund would leverage off the existing infrastructure of Anglo American’s Zimele enterprise development arm, and would be administered by the existing Zimele board, with Anglo American executive director Godfrey Gomwe as chairperson.
Gomwe, who addressed participants at the launch, explained that the fund was the evolution of the Zimele model, and would concentrate on the establishment of long-term partnerships with government and local communities.
Government’s representative at the launch, Department of Water and Environmental Affairs director-general Nosipho Ngcaba agreed with Gomwe’s partnership approach, congratulating the company on its willingness to collaborate with other businesses and investigate environmental impact mitigation strategies.
“The commitment by Anglo American is truly noble, and we recognise that the private sector has an integral role to play in the achievement of government’s climate policy plans,” she said.
Criteria for funding include the availability of reportable and verifiable impact results for mitigating innovations, long-term sustainability potential, a strong technology base, job creation poten- tial and commercial viability.