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Somincor engineering and extensive pilot testing at the mine site, a ? 20 million paste plant is now under construction and is due to come online in the second half of this year. Over the next 20 years, a series of cells will progressively be constructed across the dam. Each cell will be filled with tailings and then covered with paste. As the paste pushes the skin of water out of the cell, it encapsulates the tailings in a moist layer that excludes oxygen. When the cell is full, it will be capped with a layer of rock, a geomembrane, then sand and finally, bentonite. " We will then cover this with soil and grass it over," Andreatidis explains. " In 20 years the dam will look like the rest of the countryside- a little rolling hill. And the tailings will be sealed from oxygen and shouldn't form acid. It's turned out to be an economically sound and environmentally good solution for us. We're happy with that." Mining has always been a notoriously hazardous business. However, Lundin Mining has invested considerable time and effort in addressing health and safety. This has been done from three angles. " Good communications are absolutely essential," Andreatidis says. " We have also developed clear standards and guidelines for all activities on site, and we've put increasing efforts into training." Risk management, inspections and auditing have become much more rigorous and have extended to contractors on site. " We have record levels of staff here at the moment," he continues. " With the increased mining activity and the construction going on we now have over 800 contractors on site, in addition to our own 850 staff." Yet 2009 saw the lowest accident rate on record for staff and contractors combined, and broke many records for health and safety. " We achieved an all- time low of just two lost time accidents in the entire year for our own staff. We only had eight medical treatment accidents- the previous record was 11- and our total accident frequency rate for our own staff came down from a previous low of 2.8 in 2007 to 1.69." Sixteen years ago, when Somincor produced its first ' life of mine' plan, it was based on the known reserves at that time which suggested the mine would be finished by 2012. This intensive programme of exploration and development has significantly prolonged that life expectancy. The full extent of the copper and zinc finds have yet to be defined, so it is hard to predict the lifespan of the mine, but there is no doubt that it has an impressive future, based on a combination of copper and zinc mining. - Editorial research by Daniel Finn February 10 www. bus- ex. com 41

The South African government is asking existing businesses to improve the lot of the wider black community- demands which have changed the face of the country's mining industry, as Jeff Daniels discovers The W ithout first- hand observation, it's impossible to fully understand the conditions under which many black South African men used to live and work for the country's mining operations- many of which were owned by renowned international business names. Labour was often recruited long- distance from around South Africa and even neighbouring countries, on contracts that obliged workers to leave their families and live in hostel rooms with 10 or 20 other men in the most primitive of conditions. Even where mining operations were developed around existing communities, other than wages, little or nothing of the wealth being created benefited the community. Some employment was created but only ever in labouring grades. Generally, very little was done to uplift the community, develop local businesses or protect biodiversity. Not surprisingly, mines were invariably seen as unwelcome neighbours and conflict occurred all too often as frustrations came to a head. 42 www. bus- ex. com February 10 trickle-