13 February 2013

South Africa: Laundry May Assist With Mining Charter

SA's mining industry is facing numerous challenges as it is compelled to comply with the mining charter and its directives around black economic empowerment (BEE) but Biodvest Laundry claims it can help the mining sector meet these challenges.

Andrew Coates, sales director of Bidvest Laundry claims that the right laundry implementation can boost a mine's BEE scorecard, enlist local community commitment and drive its upliftment, all while being a boon to enterprise development.

"Bidvest Laundry has three divisions. Boston is our centralised laundry offering that provides solutions for clients such as Southern Sun and Sun International. First Garment Rental supplies overalls and specialist work wear for large companies, while Montana provides laundry equipment, spares and maintenance. It is the Montana division that delivers what we refer to as On Premise Laundry (OPL) solutions," he says.

Coates describes OPL as a one-stop-shop that can supply laundry equipment and design and implement a laundry for a client while providing the skills ncessary to operate and maintain it. In fact, he adds, mining firms such as Goldfields, Anglo Gold and Harmony use these services.

"What we propose is a solution that is managed by the mines for a contracted period. Then we partner with entrepreneurs in the local communities and help them build a business that is owned by people in the community, thus promoting enterprise development," Coates claimed.

He points to a project in Lesotho as an example of what can be achieved.

Bidvest Laundry has been involved in a public private partnership with the government of Lesotho and Netcare for a 450-bed hospital, where Bidvest installed equipment worth R2m.

"We are currently training local people to operate and maintain this laundry. Our plan now is to extrapolate this concept into the mining sector," he said.

"We have standard Montana contracts with a number of mining companies but these offer little in terms of community upliftment. So the mines spend a lot of money on a laundry contract but do little to improve the community surrounding its mine. This is what our solution address," he said.

Coates says teaching people in the local community to operate the machinery is reasonably simple but the business principles need to be followed and so Bidvest offers business training and management as part of its skills development programme.

"What happens is the local community gets jobs, skills and develops a business while the mines improve their BEE and enterprise development initiatives, as required by the mining charter. And the mines save money too," he added.

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