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In keeping up with our vision to become a successful mid-tier diamond producer and the preferred and trusted partner of choice of all stakeholders and local communities where its operations are located, Firestone has committed to comply with all relevant local regulatory requirement guided by international best practices, by establishing at its operations, an Environmental and Social Management System (ESMS), driven by group and site specific policies.
Our Executive Team regularly meets with investors and investor representative organisations across the world to discuss a range of strategy and governance topics including our approach to environmental, social and governance matters.
At an operational level, our Operational Management Team, aims to continually improve our environmental management systems. They are dedicated to promoting and maintaining high standards of environmental management by implementing sound procedures and monitoring processes, as well as by raising environmental awareness amongst our employees and local communities.
Dust fall-out monitoring
River water sampling
Our operation is subject to significant environmental regulation under applicable local legislation and we conduct regular internal and external audits to ensure we meet and go beyond compliance in the most vital area.
The business impact on the climate, and companies’ ability to withstand climate change, are issues of increasing global importance and vital to our stakeholders. Climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time. Understanding the global impacts and the implications for our business are critical strategic issues for us.
Firestone is currently investigating strategies to help deal with these challenges and monitoring to establish a baseline on its footprint. The strategy will focus on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions monitoring, investing in low emissions technologies and working with other stakeholders to enhance market response to climate change issues.
Because our operations are significant consumers of energy, it is important to manage energy use and focus on energy conservation and therefore Firestone has:
Over time, this lowered demand on the electricity grid can account for hundreds of tons of reduced carbon production.
Diamond mining is an energy intensive activity and all the energy used at our operations is externally supplied, primarily by country based national power utility companies; Lesotho Electrical Company in Lesotho which buys Hydro-power generated electricity from both ‘Muela Hydro-power station of Lesotho, and Electricidade de Mocambique (EDM) of Mozambique, coal fired electricity from Eskom of South Africa, and the Botswana Power Corporation which utilizes mainly coal fired power stations in Botswana. At our Lesotho operations, on average 80% of the electricity we utilize is sourced from clean hydro-power generation.
Managing our energy usage is not only an environmental prerogative in combating climate change, but it is also a financial objective, given the rising electricity tariffs. Therefore, Firestone through its operations aims to reduce energy consumption and increase energy efficiency wherever deemed possible. A variety of energy saving initiatives are already in place at our operations which will assist in combatting climate change.
Firestone views water, not only as a scarce resource but, also as a vital resource that affects the livelihood of communities, and the general health of the environment. Water management has been identified as one of the company’s most significant environmental and business risks.
Our operations are exposed to a broad spectrum of water-related risks because of the nature, location, and increasing irregular annual rainfall patterns that have affected the availability of raw water for treatment processes and impact on natural water sources that sustain the communities around our operations. At Liqhobong our commitments include:
Over the past 2 years we have been monitoring our water balance. In FY 2018, we succeeded in maintaining our total water volumes above the set operational target volumes, as shown below. For the first half of 2019 the rainfall was below the annual average, however, as you can see from the below chart, water reserves were replenished to the required levels in June.
At an operating level, Liqhobong’s environmental focus continues to be on waste management, water monitoring, incident reporting and auditing of contractor activities. The Company adopted a waste segregation at source policy which allows for the separation and collection of recyclable and hazardous material that are removed and disposed of by accredited service providers.
Health and Safety
Firestone strives to provide all its employees and contractors with a safe and healthy working environment. We aim to achieve this by:
Regular training and retraining of employees and contractors takes place at the Mine and all visitors to the Mine are subjected to a comprehensive safety induction session. While the operations have been designed in such a way that they are as safe as possible, and policies and procedures are in place to help prevent accidents from occurring, they can still happen. In many instances, accidents are as a result of non-compliance with standard safety procedures, whereupon refresher training is conducted, and safety standards are reinforced.
The Company operates a Safety Management System (SMS) which records all incidents as well as near misses. All incidents are investigated to identify the reasons for them occurring, and the corrective action required to prevent them from re-occurring.
Weekly incident review meetings chaired by the Mine’s General Manager and attended by both Liqhobong and contractor department heads take place. During these meetings, incidents are discussed in detail and learnings and next steps are recorded to prevent recurrence.
In the most recent financial year the company unfortunately recorded two lost time injuries after having worked over 7 million Lost Time Injury free man-hours. Significant work has been done to put measures in place to prevent future recurrence of similar incidents. Management has also revisited its strategies within the SMS to proactively manage future high-risk activities.
The Liqhobong Mine was recently awarded a 4-star rating under the NOSA Star Grading system. The NOSA audit is an independent assessment of the mine’s risk management system that is used in the everyday business operations. Prior to this audit, in 2018, LMDC engaged NOSA to conduct a baseline audit to identify the gap between the SMS and NOSA protocol.
Amongst others, the company was audited on the conformity or non-conformity of the implemented SHE Management system elements with applicable legislation, risk exposure and NOSA system requirements. The audit also covered determination of the effectiveness of the implemented systems in meeting specified objectives. Firestone also conducted a detailed fire risk assessment on the Mine and a number of very valuable recommendations were made to reduce our safety risk in this area.
The health of our people is also a very important focus area. The Mine has a gym which is equipped to assist people to stay fit whilst on site, and there is a clinic which is adequately resourced to treat people for a range of medical issues and emergencies. Procedures are in place for medical evacuation to more suitable medical facilities should this be required.
Another strong focus area has been on chronic illnesses management driven by a system within the clinic to ensure monitoring of affected employees, adherence to medication and general care.
HIV/AIDS has a high prevalence in Lesotho and all employees are encouraged to determine their status. Counselling is offered, and the clinic is available to assist people in managing their illness.
The company also participates in the nationwide hygiene project for girls at the local Liqhobong primary school. Thirty young ladies are currently benefiting from the programme.
Our work is guided by our CSR Policy with its supporting procedures. The policy defines LMDC’s standards for corporate social responsibility and community relations which is essential in creating and sustaining lasting relations with the communities alongside which we operate.
In 2018, we conducted an independent Needs Analysis so that, as a business, we remain relevant by aligning our goals with the long-term interests of communities affected by our operations. This analysis was used to inform the company’s policy and will continue to be useful in formulation of our strategies and initiatives.
Each month, as part of maintaining open and transparent communication with our communities, we hold leadership meetings with the company’s management team and community leaders. Through these meetings, we have a consistent way of addressing grievances, designing projects and other social responsibility initiatives and maintaining open communication and mutual relationships.
Our Focus Areas
At Firestone, we aim to support the development of future leaders and thus contribute to resilient communities that will continue to thrive beyond the life of our operations. We have invested in education infrastructure at both pre-primary and primary levels. Through the Contractors Forum, we are also covering fees for vulnerable children at pre-primary level as well as costs of education material.
Local Economic and Small Business Development
Firestone has an opportunity to significantly influence economic development within the communities where we operate. The company is living up to community expectations through a number of ways which contribute to enhancing the lives of community members and provides a social licence to operate. Through our Lema u Phele programme, we are sharing the benefits and contributing to local economic development through buying vegetables and eggs produced by local farmers.
A variety of seeds such as cabbage, spinach, butternut, carrots, beetroot and potatoes were issued to local producers which will enable them to sell back to the mine kitchen.
Lema U Phele members receiving seed donations
We also aim to continue making contributions through other economic programs which will be designed to respond to community needs and support their priorities as well as mitigate the social impacts of our operations.
Community Health and Wellness
Our current commitments include assisting the well-being of our communities through emergency responses and referrals to government hospitals. Going forward, we intend to advance our strategy to also include initiatives that aim to improve our local health system as well as build the capacity of our community health workers.
Water and Sanitation
Through our corporate social responsibility initiatives, we have invested in potable water and sanitation facilities for communities directly affected by our operations.
One of the many taps installed at Liqhobong Village
Spring water storage tanks at Liqhobong and Pulane Villages
At Firestone, we understand that our directly affected communities do not exist in isolation from others which is why we have undertaken investments beyond the two villages directly adjacent to the mine. In 2018, we embarked on projects to improve road infrastructure in the Motete region wherein we constructed two river crossings and foot bridges for school children. We also continue to regularly maintain roads connecting surrounding villages.
Official opening of the Kao Crossing
Opening ceremony of the Kao Crossing Bridge as part of CSR projects
The Board has always been fully committed to supporting high standards of governance and recognise that by applying sound principles in running the Company we will provide a solid basis for growth and establish trust with our stakeholders.
Following the London Stock Exchange’s introduction of a new rule requiring all AIM companies to apply a recognised corporate governance code and to provide details of how it has been complied with on its website and in the annual report, the board of directors of Firestone (the ‘Board’) has decided to adopt The QCA Corporate Governance Code (the ‘QCA Code’).
Firestone is incorporated in England and Wales and its shares are listed on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange (AIM).
The non-executive chairman of Firestone is responsible for the running of the Board and the overall governance of the group. In this role, they are supported by the Company Secretary.
The current status of the governance structures and practices were set out in our 2017 Annual Report. We have continued to develop those structures and practices during 2018.
There are no significant areas where the Company’s governance structures and practices differ from the expectations set by the QCA Code. Over the following months we will be updating and adding to our website disclosures to ensure full compliance.