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SGM Ashley McLeod bids farewell to Machadodorp Works

Perhaps the greatest of a number of changes to take place at Assmang Chrome – Machadodorp Works recently was the announcement that Senior General Manager, Ashley McLeod would soon be bidding farewell to Machadodorp. In one of many changes that have all occurred in a relatively short period of time, Machado’s popular SGM has been promoted to Executive: ARM Ferrous (Growth & Strategy) and will, with effect from 1 June 2014. In his new and well-deserved promotion to the ARM Executive Committee, Ashley will report directly to ARM Chief Executive, Andre’ Joubert.

In the midst of a whirlwind of matters still to be attended to before his imminent departure, The Highveld Gazette was nonetheless able to pin Ashley down for a final interview to gain an insight on the “highs and lows” of his time at the Machadodorp Works. “Yes, there have indeed been many ups and downs for the Machadodorp Works during my time at the helm,” reported Ashley “but, all in all, a great deal has still been achieved – despite difficult economic times and changing markets for our product.” When pressed for more detail on the highpoints, Ashley was quick to respond with his trademark smile. “The re-organisation of many aspects of how things are done at the works, I consider to have been a great success. Of course, none of which would have been possible without strong working relationships forged with the workforce. Even in tough times, I always felt and knew that my people were 100% on-board and behind my initiatives every step of the way. I will always be grateful for this uncompromising support!”, he said.

Despite many successes, there were still difficult periods. “The shut-down of furnace no.1 – followed by no.’s 2 and 5 and also the pelletising plant were very serious setbacks,” he related, somberly. “Of course, the resultant and unavoidable retrenchments and the impact on the remaining workforce were perhaps some of the hardest periods of my time here at Machado,” Ashley said. “Not to mention, the tragic deaths of two of our staff members, Vusi Sindane and Eric Maluka, in an unavoidable accident was a real low point for me, personally.”

When queried on subsequent events, the SGM immediately brightened, however. “On the plus side of things, we at Machado were very pleased to have, after protracted negotiations with ARM’s Exco., successfully made the change from smelting chrome to smelting manganese, which has enabled us to continue profitable operations” he said, with a smile. “And now that we are showing very promising results from the trial period of the re-opening of our pelletising plant, there is a renewed, vibrant and positive attitude throughout the workforce which is very pleasing to see.”

With his time in Machadodorp quickly coming to an end – and with new responsibilities and new horizons beckoning – THG was able to slot in a couple of final questions for Ashley before our time was up…

THG: “We realise that it is virtually impossible to sum it up in just one sentence, but we still just have to ask… What are you going to miss most when you leave?”
Ashley: (smiling) “You know of course, that you are putting me on the spot here, but I know that I will really miss the incredible natural beauty of the Machadodorp area. Being in Jo’burg, I know I will think often on the peace and quiet. And, of course my 5-minute commute to work will only be a fond memory!”
THG: “One final question before we let you get back to your busy day, Ashley… What parting message do you have for the Machadodorp workforce? We know they are going to miss you!”
Ashley: “That one is easy – Support your new management in the same way you have always supported me. Why I say it’s an easy answer is because I already know that the terrific staff at Machadodorp works will do exactly that! Thank you all for the loyal support, I will always appreciate and remember it.”

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