Our pillars


The Group’s purpose – “Produce the best diamonds, in the best way, leaving a lasting legacy” – is directly underpinned by three key strategic priorities: Extracting Maximum Value from Our Operations, Working Responsibly and Maintaining Our Social Licence, and Preparing for Our Future.

Our social licence to operate depends on regular engagement with all stakeholders, including government, local communities, employees and other interested parties, to address challenges with mutually beneficial and sustainable solutions. As responsible operators and social partners in our host countries, we endeavour to maintain healthy and constructive relationships with governments and our PACs.

As mining life is finite, we must establish corporate social responsibility investment (CSRI) projects that continue to create value for stakeholders in our absence. We want to leave a positive legacy in the countries in which we operate through contributing to local economies, maximising local employment and procurement, and developing sustainable CSRI projects. We take an integrated approach to achieving this, and we understand how the issues of sustainability, society and the environment are inextricably linked.

Related sustainability principles

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Prioritising the development and well-being of our employees

Related UN SDGs

While our CSRI activities focus on PACs at our operating mine in Lesotho, where the need is greatest, we acknowledge that we are part of a global community striving to address larger issues. To this end, we integrated the UN SDGs into our decision-making process, with six of the 17 SDGs identified as key to our communities and organisational objectives.

The following UN SDGs relate to our social pillar:


Refer to our Annual Report and Accounts 2022 and Our Approach to Climate Change Report 2022 for more information on our approach to integrating these UN SDGs into our business operations.

Snapshot of our performance

  • US$0.5 million invested in social projects (2021: US$0.8 million)
  • US$134.1 million spent on local procurement (2021: US$164.9 million)
  • Zero major or significant community accidents (2021: zero)
  • Established an agriculture skills incubator
  • Zero incidents of compromised dam integrity (2021: zero)
  • Zero incidents involving rights violations of indigenous communities (2021: zero)

Our goals

  • Build on our foundation of positive relationships with all stakeholders through continuous engagement.
  • Enhance the sustainability of our small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) projects through partnerships with appropriate non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
  • Implement our needs-based CSRI programme effectively to enhance benefit to PACs.

Our future

  • Strengthen partnerships with our PACs through CSRI initiatives that support the creation of sustainable, mutually beneficial industries through extended support.
  • Launch our second three-year UN SDG cycle and integrate this into our corporate social responsibility strategy.
  • Further integrate climate-related considerations into our corporate social responsibility strategy.

Material Matters

Our context

Our primary objective is to operate safely and responsibly – ensuring the safety and health of our workforce, their families and the communities surrounding our operations.

Our Letšeng operation is located in a remote part of Lesotho’s Maluti Mountains, with limited public infrastructure and challenging transport routes. Not only does the remote location create operational challenges, but our PACs also face daily difficulties accessing basic public services. Our responsibility as a good corporate citizen extends beyond protecting our communities against any potential risks posed by our mining operations, and includes generating sustainable shared value that will benefit PACs for generations to come.

During 2022, two material topics were at the centre of our engagement with stakeholders: water quality and tailings storage facility (TSF) management.

Our approach

The lack of access to public services and water provision infrastructure resulted in our PACs primarily relying on surface water sources (streams and springs) for their daily water needs, including subsistence farming, livestock and human consumption, and hygiene. E.coli can be found in these surface water bodies, and can sometimes cause severe gastrointestinal illness (for more information, refer to our water quality case study).

At Letšeng, our on-site clinic provides emergency and primary healthcare for community members, and our medical staff often travel to PACs to assist community members who are not able to travel to the clinic. After noting continuing high levels of E.coli-related gastrointestinal illness, we designed a strategy focused on assisting our PACs with safe and potable water and decent sanitation infrastructure. This strategy protects the communities from ingesting water contaminated with E.coli as a result of fouling in the water, and also protects the water bodies from further contamination by providing sanitation facilities. To date, we have provided 10 schools and five villages with safe potable water and dignified sanitation facilities.

In addition to our community outreach and primary healthcare programmes, we provide emergency response and medical assistance in the region. We leverage resources at our Letšeng operation to directly assist communities in the Mokhotlong district. We repair and maintain national roads on behalf of the Roads Agency. In 2022, we responded to eight accidents on public roads and treated 33 people in our clinic for trauma injuries sustained in the community villages.

The second material engagement topic in 2022 was the responsible management of our TSFs. These are an integral part of mining operations, and they present one of the most significant potential hazards associated with the industry if they are not responsibly managed. Recent tragedies involving tailings dam failures have placed the mining industry under intense scrutiny, highlighting that risk management is crucial at every stage of the lifecycle of tailings facilities.

In response to these tragedies, the ICMM established the GISTM to help achieve the ultimate goal of zero harm to people and the environment, with zero tolerance for human fatality. The standard requires operators to take responsibility and prioritise the safety of tailings facilities through all phases of a facility’s lifecycle, including closure and post-closure. It also requires the disclosure of relevant information to support public accountability. Gem Diamonds has committed to and adopted the ICMM’s GISTM.

We recognise that ensuring the integrity of our mining waste and freshwater storage facilities is non-negotiable and integral in exercising our responsibility to safeguard our communities. We take a proactive approach and ensure that dam safety is continually managed according to international best practice. Dam walls undergo stringent safety monitoring in the form of inspections and audits, conducted both internally and externally at regular intervals throughout the year.

To protect our host communities from potential dam-related hazards, we monitor two TSFs and a freshwater dam at our Letšeng mine: the Patising TSF, the Old TSF, and the Mothusi Dam – our freshwater supply resource. All facilities undergo stringent inspections on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, surveying factors including water level, beach length, freeboard and overall structural stability. Furthermore, an early-warning system, together with community training and awareness programmes, are used to ensure the emergency readiness of communities that could be affected in the unlikely event of a failure. The nearest village is located 20km downstream from the mine. However, Letšeng has never had a case of tailings overflowing or breaching of a tailings containment facility.

Refer to our the Operations review in Annual Report and Accounts 2022 for our response to tailings management.

Our performance

  • Zero incidents of compromised dam integrity were recorded in 2022 (2021: zero).
  • In 2022, the Letšeng emergency team responded to 17 emergency calls (2021: 22) from PACs, of which eight were motor vehicle-related (2021: 13).

Our context

The strength of our relationships with stakeholders, particularly employees, regulators, PACs and host governments, ensures our social licence to operate. These relationships depend on the effective management of ethics, labour practices, environmental and social responsibility, and our risk management and engagement activities with stakeholders.

Our culture of care encourages us to engage, listen and respond responsibly to stakeholders’ needs. Our decision-making is supported by regular stakeholder engagements, enabling us to create value for society and promote our long-term sustainability.

Lesotho has high levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty. Our stakeholder engagement and CSI strategy guides our Letšeng operations in responsibly and sustainably contributing to the economy and our PACs during and beyond our life of mine.

Refer to our Annual Report and Accounts 2022 for information about stakeholder engagement and management.

Our approach

Our community engagement approach is informed by operation-specific SEIAs and community needs analyses, following extensive public participation. It is aligned with host country legislation and international best practice guidelines, such as the Equator Principles and the IFC Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability.

At Letšeng, we take a multi-level approach to stakeholder engagement. We hold monthly engagements with local community leaders, quarterly meetings with residents of local villages, and regular forums with district-level stakeholders and leadership.

Our stakeholder engagement specialist established WhatsApp groups with local villagers for rapid, frequent communication, enhancing the quality of our relationships and our ability to understand and proactively address issues.

We acknowledge our communities’ unique cultural and traditional context. We aim to engage transparently and respectfully. To achieve this, we employ suitably qualified and trained people. We have a stakeholder consultation framework to ensure meaningful engagement, from which we integrate feedback to guide our decision-making. Community representatives sit on the CSRI subcommittee of the Letšeng Board, which meets quarterly to discuss the implementation and sustainability of current and planned projects.

Topics of engagement in 2022

This past year, community engagement teams highlighted issues relating to Letšeng’s employment policy, community projects, SME development and the mine’s emergency medical response capacity. The teams also encouraged community members to use the formal grievance procedure if grievances arose.

An important issue raised in 2022 was the occasional breach of perimeter boundaries by community members and livestock. These breaches pose a safety risk for community members and employees, and can affect the mine's biodiversity initiatives. We held discussions with community members and agreed on several measures to prevent and manage the breaches.

Our performance

  • No major or significant stakeholder incidents occurred at any of our operations during 2022 (2021: none).
  • No incidents involving rights violations of the indigenous people on whose land the Group operates occurred at our operations in 2022 (2021: none).

Our context

Lesotho is a developing country with high poverty rates. Approximately 81% of the Lesotho population lives on less than US$5.50 a day, and almost 35% of the population is under-nourished. The three districts bordering our Letšeng mine are home to some of the most impoverished communities in Lesotho. The diamond and textile industries are the primary contributors to the country’s export economy.

While we have a comprehensive corporate social community investment strategy focused on sustainable shared value creation, we also contribute to our host communities through tax payments and royalties, our sustainable development investments and local employment and procurement practices. We focus on authentic engagements to understand communities’ needs and implement sustainable projects – in this way, we create meaningful change focused on the provision of basic services, food security and decent work.

Our approach

We value our mutually beneficial relationships with our PACs; these relationships ensure our long-term sustainability. We comply with regulations and legal requirements and go beyond legislated minimum requirements to make a meaningful impact and meet communities’ needs.

We facilitate CSRI through rolling five-year strategies, informed by an independent third-party assessment of community needs. Our strategy focuses on areas with the greatest potential for positive impact, namely infrastructure development, education, health, SME development and, where appropriate, regional environmental projects.

Our most recent strategy development and needs analysis was conducted in 2021. We consulted a broad range of stakeholders during the needs-analysis process, including communities, leadership authorities, employees and relevant government departments.

The Letšeng CSRI Committee, which includes community representatives from the Mokhotlong region, governs our CSRI strategy. Letšeng agreed in its mining lease to allocate LSL5.0 million, or 1% of total dividends declared and paid in the relevant financial year, whichever is the greater, to CSRI projects. These commitments are included in our mining lease agreement with the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho. The CSRI policy, which includes consideration of our adopted UN SDGs, outlines the process we adopt in identifying CSRI projects and prioritising sustainable and worthy causes, as informed by a bottom-up, community-focused approach. The governance of CSRI allows for ad hoc and responsive projects where appropriate, for example, to allow for effective responses to emergencies, such as flooding.

Our performance

  • CSRI investment of US$0.5 million (2021: US$0.8 million).
  • To date, Letšeng Diamonds has awarded 51 scholarships to young Basotho citizens to study in the fields of mining, engineering, emergency medical care and finance; 48 have graduated successfully and 26 are employed full-time at the mine.
  • We constructed perimeter fencing and ablution facilities at Mapholaneng High School in late 2022.
  • We constructed 50 toilets and a water storage and supply scheme at Ha Moroke village, which had no access to clean water or sanitation facilities.
  • Construction began on classrooms and toilets at Nthlolohetsane Primary School, due for completion in 2023.
  • The egg circle projects in Tlokoeng and Mokhotlong were commissioned in 2022.
  • We established an agriculture skills incubator with specialist input to mentor and guide egg farmers.
  • Milk production has increased at the Dairy Project due to the addition of 13 Holstein cows in 2022 and the establishment of a dairy farming incubator to support the project.

Enhancing our support for flagship projects

Our flagship projects are intended as income-generating enterprises that become self-sustaining without the long term support of the Letšeng mine.

The projects we supported before 2020 are self-sustaining. However, COVID-19 had a devastating impact on projects that were in the process of development and handover to communities.

In 2022, we engaged the services of project-specific NGOs to provide business incubation support for these initiatives. The NGOs offer mentorship, guidance and help to set up the necessary structures to support sustainability. Organisational development experts transfer governance, accounting and administrative skills to the members of the associations that oversee the projects, and subject matter experts develop programmes to enhance productivity.

The success of this approach resulted in the refinement of our flagship project model to involve ongoing partnerships with NGOs and subject matter experts.

Our context

Localisation is key to embedding shared value for our host countries and communities. Gem Diamonds contributes to shared value by employing people from our PACs and engaging with local businesses in our supply chain. This enables us to contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development and well-being of our communities while meeting our business needs.

Our approach

Letšeng is a significant contributor to Lesotho’s economy. We provide jobs for more than 1 500 locals and support socio-economic development through our focused local procurement strategy. Wherever possible, we recruit locally and match locally available skills with operational requirements. Where local skills shortages are noted, we utilise our scholarship and internship programmes to ensure future skills availability. We purchase goods and services from local suppliers who comply with the necessary standards while helping these entrepreneurs develop their businesses.

Our performance

  • 98% of Letšeng’s workforce comprises Lesotho nationals (2021: 98%).
  • Group in-country procurement was US$134.1 million (2021: US$164.9 million), of which US$2.4 million was procured directly from PACs (2021: US$3.4 million) and US$30.0 million (2021: US$31.4 million) from communities around Letšeng.

As our mines are in remote rural locations, we recognise and respect the importance of protecting the surrounding communities’ well-established cultures and social structures. We help to uplift these communities, advancing their economic, environmental and social sustainability potential while promoting practices that protect human rights.

Our approach

Our overarching impact assessments are guided by free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) guidelines. FPIC is a specific right that pertains to indigenous peoples and is recognised in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It allows indigenous communities to give or withhold consent to a project that could affect them or their territories.

We align our community engagements and CSRI projects with international best practice and sustainability principles. Our informed approach applies information gathered from community needs analyses and SEIAs. Assessments include extensive public participation to understand our PACs’ needs and concerns.

Our goal is to minimise adverse mining impacts while identifying opportunities for positive outcomes. Our SEIAs involve biodiversity surveys, soil, water and air quality studies, archaeological surveys, visual and socio-economic impact assessments and an extensive public participation process.

Our performance

  • Zero incidents involving rights violations of indigenous communities (2021: zero).
  • Zero major or significant community grievances lodged in 2022 (2021: zero).
  • Engagement with PACs through established and enhanced forums in a safe and responsible manner.