Our Key Team Members

We are very proud of the Palabora Foundation team. We recruit locally for semi-skilled or unskilled posi- tions, with senior positions open to anyone. One of the successes of the Foundation is it’s ability to retain staff. Most of the employees in the foundation work here until retirement. We have a work environment and culture which makes staff members want to stay.

  • Overview
  • History
  • Structure
  • Business Model
  • Where We Work
  • Stakeholders

Our Mission

The Palabora Foundation is the enabler of economic and community development to facilitate prosperity within the areas it operates.

Our Vision

To be the preferred provider of innovative and dynamic solutions of economic development.


n 2013 The Palaborwa Foundation assumed its status as an independent non-profit organisation, independent educational trust and a National Skills Fund accredited provider.

Prior to this, it was the corporate social investment arm of parent company Rio Tinto, whose shareholding in the Palabora Mining Company was sold to a consortium of South African and Chinese entities. The sale agreement was concluded in July 2013, and the company’s name changed from Palabora Mining Company to Palabora Copper (Pty) Limited.

Due to economic uctuations and uncertainty in the mining industry, the Palabora Foundation can never rest on its laurels. Firmly entrenched in the hearts and homes of the community, the Foundation continues to play an integral role in the health and prosperity of the community.


n the 30 years since it was established by the Palabora Mining Company to assist communities within a 50 kilometre radius of Phalaborwa to be self-reliant, it’s achieved many successes. There are not ash-in-the-pan stories, but rather a process of steadily building belief and capacity in the community. It’s historical activities have included projects in the areas of education, skills development and training, business development and tourism promotion activities, community health (HIV and Aids), small-scale community projects and enterprise development.

Changing Times

Its current focus is on what the Foundation calls “the corridor of capacity building”, providing educational opportunities from the support of basic learning, through to skills provision and busi- ness development programmes.

“We see this as the most e ective means of supporting economic growth,” says Director Male- sela Letsoalo. “As the Foundation has demonstrated over the last year, its initiatives form part of a logical ow that carries participants to a place where they can practically apply their skills and better their lives.”
Currently funded through endowments form the mining industry, the Foundation is working hard to ensure that its programmes remain the most responsible and e ective way for the mining giants to pay their debt to the community by providing opportunities for empowerment.


The day-to-day management of the Palabora Foundation is carried out by the Foundation’s director, assisted by the management team and their staff. Corporate governance at the Foundation is a Board of Trustees, Trustees Audit Committee, external auditors A2A Kopano inc and internal auditors Business Innovations Group (BIG).

As part of an ongoing process of strategic stakeholder engagement, the Foundation participates in local government Integrated Development Planning (IDP) forums, and interacts with, and reports to community structures, on its current development programmes, to ensure continued relevance. The Ba-Phalaborwa community has five Traditional Royal Councils and the Foundation is a member of a community development forum where local Magoshi can receive and report feedback on community development programmes, and the sharing of any mutual developmental challenges in their respective communities. This engagement ensures that the Foundation is up to speed with local needs, as articulated by people on the ground, through their respective leaders.

Employment Equity

In 2017 out of 56 employees, 51 were designated or historically disadvantaged South Africans. This means The Foundation actually exceeded the requirements of the Employment Equity Act.

Board Of Trustees

  • Isaac Masekwameng Chairperson And Businessman
  • Sendzani Faith Mudau Director Sfm Chartered Accountant
  • Busisiwe Masete Chief Community Liaison Officer, Primary Health Care
  • Matthew T Mhlongo General Manager, Limpopo Department Of Education
  • Maboko Mahlaole General Manager Human Resources, Palabora Copper
  • Malesela Letsoalo Ex-Director of The Palabora Foundation
  • Martha Shokane Traditional Royal Council Representative
  • Keith Mathole General Manager: Marketing, Sales, Logistics & External Affairs, Palabora Copper

Executive Team

  • Lerato Mphadzha Director Palabora Foundation
  • Zwannda St Irenaeus Mukwevho Chief Financial Officer
  • Sam Shilubane Superintendent Human Resources
  • Jack Maseta Superintendent Skills Development
  • Dinah Mhabela Superintendent Community Health
  • Phillip Mutshena Superintendent Learner Support
  • Portia Ledwaba Confidential Secretary to the Director

he Palabora Foundation’s business model is its system of transforming inputs, through its activities, into outputs and outcomes that aim to fulfil the organisation’s strategic purposes and create value over the short, medium and long term. Primarily, it has done this by working with people through business development, skills development, education and community health programmes. In doing so, we fulfill our strategic purpose to enable economic and community development and create value and prosperity within the areas we operate by developing human capital.

Long-term value generation, or true prosperity as articulated in our mission, requires a market for the skills provided. As a result, we continue to shy away from addressing classically perceived business and community needs to delivering relevant, demand-based programmes, cognisant of the social and business environment we operate in, and linked to national imperatives.
In addition, to continue to fulfil our mission, we realise the strategic imperative towards sustainability means changing how we enable economic and community development. It also means registering a profit-making business to sustain the Foundation’s work and decrease our reliance on returns from invested assets in order to keep serving our community.

Strategy And Resource Allocation

The biggest driver at the Foundation over the reporting period has been sustainability. This is to ensure that the Foundation does not compromise the opportunities of future generations while meeting current needs in a financially challenging environment. This involves restructuring or closing operations in sections that do not add value as the organisation continues to implement its new strategy and build on the work done in the previous reporting period.

Our challenge for the reporting period was to align strategy with operations. This means increasing the organisation’s revenue generating base by raising funds while initiating income generation projects, and restructuring or closing operations in sections that would not add value or impact on sustainability.

In formulating our strategy and determining our strategic priorities, we considered the full range of issues that influence the sustainability of our business and the social, economic and physical environments in which we operate and which, in turn, have a direct impact on our future viability. This includes the mining and tourism industries, which are major role players in terms of providing markets for the skills we develop.

    The pool of funds that is available for use in the provision of services remains primarily the return on invested assets. Our value added statement gives further details on the use of our financial capital.
    Our campus and associated facilities remain available to the organization for use in the production provision of services.
    We have extensive, knowledge-based intangibles based on a 30 year track record of working in Ba-Phalaborwa.
    People’s competencies, capabilities and experience, and their motivations to innovate remain a strength given our high staff retention and commitment to staff development.
    The institutions and the relationships within and between communities, groups of stakeholders and other networks, and the ability to share information to enhance individual and collective well-being, is paramount to our success. We actively manage the stakeholder relationships on which our business depends, including with communities, business partners, governments and other NPOs.
    Renewable and nonrenewable environmental resources and processes that provide goods or services that support the past, current or future prosperity of the foundation include mineral resources, ecosystem services and protected areas. These provide the markets for the skills we develop and the industries for the suppliers we support.

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Where We Are Working


he people we serve live in a 50 kilometre radius of Ba-Phalaborwa in Namakgale and Lulekani townships, including the rural areas of Makhushane, Maseke, Mashishimale, Selwana and Majeje. Ba-Phalaborwa is situated in the Mopani District Municipality, Limpopo Province, South Africa. This area is located near the confluence of the Ga- Selati River and the Olifants, halfway up along the western border of the Kruger National Park in the Lowveld. Unemployment in the area is high, with mining and tourism providing most jobs in the area.

There is ongoing pressure to create jobs and regular flare ups of tension around employment issues. The juxtaposition of the poor and wealthy is extreme and leads to a sense of inequitable access and social segregation.

Health issues such as HIV, malaria, TB and lack of hospitals concern many residents. There are large disparities in income and high levels of unemployment, and attendant levels of poverty in the former homeland areas in particular. International economics link to mining affect local communities in Ba-Phalaborwa in ways that leave them feeling disempowered and reliant on forces outside of their control. Informal and entrepreneurial economic activities have a stabilising role to play in supporting sustainable livelihoods.


he broad range of the Palabora Foundation’s various partners and stakeholders bears testimony to the significance of the work that we carry out and the extensive collaboration required between us as we pursue our goals and objectives.


The foundation has a number of important partners including the European Union, various departments in the Limpopo Provincial Government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), industrial and commercial corporations, the Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality and private individuals. We recognise that partnerships are the most effective way for us to become involved in social development programmes and projects in the area. By accessing expertise and sharing resources and skills, partnerships can provide mutual benefit while also giving projects the volumes and momentum they require for success.

Over the years we have partnered with provincial and local government, other local companies, NGOs and communities in our efforts to improve the education and skills base, fight the high rate of unemployment in the region, reduce the impact of HIV and Aids and stimulate local economic development.


Historically, Palabora Mining Company provided most of the finances needed to run the foundation. Until 2001, they gave 3% of their after tax profit to the foundation. Since 2001 the mine has withdrawn regular funding from the foundation, which now meets operating expenses from the interest earned on its investment fund. The foundation also receives funding from government and non-government partners.

In the wake of the recent global economic downturn, which has caused fluctuations in the mining industry, the Palabora Foundation is actively pursuing additional funding from local, national or global partners, to help ensure that the success of the Ba-Phalaborwa community isn’t entirely dependent on the sustainability of the mine.

The main contributors to Palabora Foundation’s success are the many donors, including Foskor Limited, Oxfam, SEDA, and the National Development Agency.

The Phelang HIV/AIDS Community Programme is funded in partnership with Palabora Mining Company, Foskor Limited, JOHAP/Oxfam, the Department of Health and Social Development, and the National Development Agency.

The foundation extends its sincere thanks to its local government partner, Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality, and to all those that help us succeed in making our communities more self-reliant.

Local communities

Consultation is vitally important in deciding which projects and programmes should be implemented in the community. Each royal council in the areas surrounding Phalaborwa has a Community Development Committee (CDC) that represents its community at quarterly forum meetings with the foundation.

There may also be meetings with individual CDCs at the request of the foundation or the host community. The Palabora Foundation director and senior foundation staff attend these meetings to plan projects, determine priorities and update the community on implementation of current and past projects.

The local and regional media, including Phalaborwa community radio station, are also used to communicate programmes and achievements to local communities.

Financial management training has been provided to CDCs, which helps communities to develop business plans for projects. They can then present these plans to the foundation to ask for support.


Learning to let people be who they are while doing their job well is something that defines my leadership style. I know what needs to be done, but people can bring their own flavour into the how. it’s this kind of diversity that makes the Palabora Foundation a rewarding place to work.

Lerato Mphadzha | Director

Our Objectives And Values


Unlock and sustain winning partnerships.


Enhance financial stability of Palabora Foundation.


Deliver vibrant, visible and effective programmes.


Protect, nurture and market the brand.


Create passionate and performance-driven teams.

  • Ubuntu

    • I am because you are, you are because we are.
    • Recognize our commonality.
    • Show humanity, compassion and tolerance.
    • Recognize that others deserve the same respect and care that you want accorded to yourself.
  • Courage

    • Choosing to confront fear, risk and uncertainty.
    • Doing the right thing when everyone else is afraid.
  • Commitment

    • Working towards a common goal.
    • Assume responsibility for actions, decisions and outcome.
    • Dedication to long term course of action, engagement and involvement.
  • Integrity

    • Performing in a trusting and trustworthy way.
    • Be who you say you are. Be honest.
    • Doing the right things at all times and in all circumstances.
  • Innovation

    • Work style that encourages creative thinking and action.
  • Transparency

    • Be open about how we work.
    • Ensure open communication -top down and bottom up.