Malaria + Mining – Addressing a global health issue

From ethical business practice, to encouraging sustainable development, Mining with Principles can mean different things in different places. If the mining industry is to have a lasting impact on development however, then promoting health and wellbeing in local communities is essential. In fact, you’ll see examples of our commitment to health improvement popping up everywhere from our community development work to our promotion of inclusive economic opportunities.

Something which remains a global health issue, however, is malaria. For World Malaria Day 2018, we looked at why malaria is an issue of such concern, and at the steps our members are taking to make it history.

Malaria

Responsible for the deaths of about a million people in 2015, malaria is further responsible for making over 445,000 people sick. With such a scale and impact, malaria represents a massive humanitarian challenge. In fact, tackling it sits within the third UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which calls for an end to the ‘epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases’.

There are other, less obvious tolls malaria takes on communities. Malaria is the single greatest drag on the African economy, to the point where every $1 invested in fighting malaria improves the GDP of the continent by $12. That makes contributing to the eradication of malaria one of the biggest, most tangible contributions the mining industry can make, especially to the African communities in which it operates.

On World Malaria Day, we’ve chosen examples from ICMM members AngloGold Ashanti and South32 that show the positive impacts they have had on reducing the spread of malaria in the countries that they operate in.

AngloGold Ashanti – Interior Residual Spraying, Ghana

Noticing a high burden of malaria in its employees, global gold mining company Anglo Gold Ashanti (AGA) initiated a programme of indoor residual spraying in Ghana. By reducing the number of mosquitos in mines, surrounding areas and in homes, AGA has reduced the number of new malaria cases seen by the local hospital from almost 7,000 per month to 500 per month since the start of the programme. The programme was so successful that AGA received a renewed grant of $15.5 million from the Global Fund for Indoor Residual Spraying. It used this increase in funding to expand the programme to operate across the 10 districts in Upper West region, three districts in Upper East region, Obuasi district in the Ashanti regions as well as 44 prisons across Ghana. The programme is estimated to protect over 1.2 millionpeople with a treatment of over a million buildings.

Of the programme, Dr Bafedile Chauke-Moagi, Senior Health Manager at AGA, said: ‘working to improve the health of the workforce has had a huge impact not only on our operations, but on the whole region. We hope that this will generate further income and boost development in the process. Working here for a number of years, it’s hugely rewarding to see such the impact this initiative has had in a relatively short amount of time.’

South32 – a holistic approach to Malaria

Global resources company, South32 is working to actively playing their part in tackling SDG 3 (good health and wellbeing) in Mozambique. Here, their Mozal Aluminium Smelter team is working to minimise malaria risk among employees and contractors by spraying work areas with mosquito repellent and applying larvicides to standing water, a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

There is a huge focus on employee education too. When new workers join the South32 team, they are taught about personal protection measures against malaria, with information displayed around the workplace, and in seasonal campaigns. On top of this, qualified medical professionals are available to examine, test and treat people with symptoms. While the battle against malaria continues, the results are impressive: a 58% reduction in onsite malaria cases in three years.

These examples of fighting malaria from AngloGold Ashanti and South32 embodies what it means to mine with principles, and the kinds of changes mining companies can bring about when they operate responsibly.