FROM THE CHAIRMAN'S DESK
As Vedanta, we aim to make our contribution to our people and our communities a benchmark for businesses across the globe.
There is a distinct demographic advantage in nations we operate in. Dynamic populations of youth have the resolve to challenge the status quo, passion for what they do and ambition to do more. We bring together the talent of this new-age generation and experienced knowledge anchors, to set and achieve ambitious sustainability targets.
We are making our work environment safer. We have in place policies, standards and best practices to ensure the health and safety of Vedanta's workforce. This year, we recorded our best-ever safety performance in terms of lost time injury frequency rate. I am saddened that seven of our people lost their lives. Achieving zero harm continues to remain our aim. We rigorously undertake improvement interventions on safety processes among all our employees and contractors. Upholding safety practices is non-negotiable for all our workforce. I am proud of the significant progress Vedanta has made in this area but we must and will do more.
A signatory of the United Nations' Women's Empowerment Principles (WEP) - 'Equality Means Business', Vedanta practices and promotes equal employment opportunities. Our Board has set a target to raise women board representation to 33% by 2020.
We continue to proactively engage with the communities in which we operate, by spearheading a number of initiatives and long-term programmes. By upholding education, women's empowerment, skill building, and farming and animal husbandry we enhance the quality of life of communities that support us.
We continue our endeavour of ensuring 'no net loss' environment as a core focus area for Vedanta. While optimising water consumption or increasing energy productivity, safeguarding biodiversity or recycling and upcycling waste, we have systems, standards and technical guidelines to ensure that Vedanta makes the maximum positive impact.
We signed the first-of-its-kind biodiversity offset agreement of our Black Mountain Mining operation in South Africa to ensure that the ecology around the Gamsberg project remains in safe custody for later restoration.
A commitment to the climate change agenda led to setting up of Carbon Forum headed by the CEO of our Power business, Ajay Dixit, to guide the Group Executive Committee on our climate change mitigation programme.
Wealth from waste continues to be an initiative close to my heart. I see immense potential to use technology to extract valuable resources from the waste we currently discard. This year, we managed to recycle more than half of our non-hazardous waste.
What we earn must be invested in social development for communities and corporates to move forward together.
We saw a healthy increase in our productivity this year, with record annual production across our Zinc, Copper, Aluminium and Power businesses in India. This year, we also delivered our promised merger of Cairn India Limited and Vedanta Limited, simplifying the Group structure, and aligning the interests of all shareholders for the creation of long-term sustainable value.
We also invested almost US$18 million towards carrying forward our various social initiatives. We are making progress towards our target of building 4,000 Nand Ghars, with 100 launched across India this year. These state-of-the-art child care centres will go a long way in ensuring quality education and nutrition for the children of India, in line with Hon'ble Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi's vision.
In March 2017, I met with His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu of Zambia and shared Vedanta Resources' 50-year vision for the country. This includes an investment of US$1 billion for the next phase of growth; an investment that is expected to create 7,000 jobs. We are aware of the legacy of the Copperbelt and are committed to do much more to improve the livelihood of downstream communities. I also committed to further help diversify the economy of the Copperbelt by supporting initiatives in agriculture and technology. Konkola Copper Mines currently supports 2,700 families and small-scale farmers through its Sustainable Livelihoods programme.
Our focus is aligned with the priority needs of our stakeholders and global best practices. We have dialogues with the local communities, in accordance to the Company values and reiterate our commitment to free prior informed community consent for sourcing bauxite. We are continuously analysing the impact of and adopting technologies that help us explore and operate more sustainably.
Due to the diligent work by teams across its operations, Vedanta Limited has been ranked as India's leading publicly listed company in the India Disclosure Index 2016. It became the only company in the natural resources sector to achieve the full score across all disclosure parameters. This strengthens my belief that we are on course in our sustainability journey, and that with the guidance of the Board Sustainability Committee, we will lead global benchmarks.
We remain committed to building a strong relationship with you and all our stakeholders, because only together can we create a sustainable future.
CHAIRMAN, VEDANTA RESOURCES