In November 2007 Implats initiated a housing upgrade programme for houses on mine property in Rustenburg, as part of a drive to attract employees to live and work on the mines and in meeting its obligations in terms of its Social and Labour Plans. Potential BEE vendors were identified locally, and invited to tender for housing upgrade contracts. Seven successful applicants were selected on the basis of BEE compliance and ability to complete houses according to Implats' high standards and timeframe of three weeks per upgrade.
Occupants are relocated by Implats to temporary accommodation while upgrading takes place. Some residents however prefer to remain at home during the restoration process, which impacts on the time taken to make the necessary upgrades. In these instances contractors are granted additional time.
One such successful BEE housing vendor is Phutelo, a building and construction business based in Rustenburg. Meaning "covered" in Setswana, Phutelo is responsible for the stripping and upgrading of plumbing, carpentry work and electrical wiring. To date the company has completed approximately 40 houses since the contract began in November 2007. Phutelo manager, Andries Rassie Erasmus commented: "Once we've finished a house we move on to the next one. An Implats housing inspector accompanies us to the property where we compile an agreed list of upgrades for the house. When our work is complete the housing inspector returns to ensure that the job has been completed to Implats' high standards."
Phutelo employs 10 permanent workers, consisting of a plumber, electrician, carpenter and general labourers. All labour was recruited locally from Rustenburg and surrounding areas. On average each house costs R140 000 to upgrade. All contractors work to a material price list in order to keep costs consistent and to ensure that all houses are upgraded to the same standard. Painting, cleaning and the fitting of carpets to houses is contracted separately.
Initially each contractor was allocated up to five houses per month for upgrade, however in 2008 economic factors such as the global recession and the falling platinum price forced Implats to reduce the number of housing allocations to only one per month. Since December 2008, platinum prices have made a modest recovery, enabling Implats to increase its housing allocation to two houses per month. Said Andries, "Last year the changing economy impacted greatly on the allocation of work to contractors, meaning fewer houses were allocated for upgrade, but Implats was very fair and went out of its way to ensure contractors could continue working, and made sure that jobs were divided as equally as possible."
Redirile is another building and construction company contracted to Implats for housing upgrades. Also based locally in Rustenburg, Redirile which means "we complete our projects/ we have worked" in Setswana has so far completed 22 houses since the start of its contract in November 2007. Although a smaller company than Phutelo, Redirile provides the same housing upgrade services to the same standards. Redirile Managing Director Brown Lekgoane remarked, "Implats is very selective of its contractors and demands the utmost care and attention to its contracted work. We've found Implats to be very different to work with than other mining companies. The company is very positive towards us and treats us as though we are employees; that is something I find truly remarkable. I have to give special thanks to Implats' Housing Division Manager, Braam Heystek for his cordial approach in dealing with the contractors and the programme as a whole."
The restoration of houses is expected to be completed in the latter half of 2010.