Mmegi Online :: Dark clouds engulf miners in the north
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Last Updated
Monday 23 October 2017, 06:00 am.
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Dark clouds engulf miners in the north

FRANCISTOWN: As the year draws to a close, many will remember this as one of the most difficult years to have hit mining companies in the northern part of the country.
By Pini Bothoko Lebogang Mosikare Koketso Kgoboge Fri 23 Dec 2016, 12:40 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Dark clouds engulf miners in the north








The incessantly falling metal prices led to the closure of mines here and other areas in the northern part of the country, resulting in massive job losses.

It would be an understatement to say that the advent of mines anywhere in Botswana brought with it hopes for better lives for many people, especially those who come from areas near the works.

When a mine is opened, people anticipate employement and other benefits from many spin-offs that come with the opening of a mine, but since the closure of the mines, hopelessness and dejection reign supreme in areas where the mines are situated.

The closure of Tati Nickel Mining Company (TNMC), which was one of the city’s economic mainstays-has also negatively impacted on the city’s economy. Other than mining, Francistown’s economic activity revolves around commerce with little manufacturing.

The closure of mines in the northern part of the country started in 2013 when an Australian mining company, Discovery Metals Limited (DML) experienced financial troubles due to largely falling copper prices.

DML, in response retrenched its staff to offset ballooning costs of operations and large salaries while the trading environment was not conducive. In January 2015, DML closed down Bosetu Mine, literally tossing around 800 into a jobless and uncertain future.

Copper prices continued to decline and that same year in May, African Copper Mine (ACM) announced the closure of one of its operations, Thakadu Mine on the outskirts of Matsitama, sending close to 300 people home.

Later that year in November, ACM closed down yet its second mine, Mowana Mine in the same year , leaving 400 people jobless.

This year in February, Aveng Moolmans Mining Company, a company that was doing excavations for TNMC, closed down resulting in more than 500 job

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losses.

Recently in October, BCL and TNMC closed down  following a liquidation process, leaving close to 5,000 people jobless.

BCL Mine had employed around 4,300 workers with about 700 workers from TNMC.

Over the years, these mines played a significant role in the economy of the city, hence its closure has crippled the property market and retail sector as some companies were forced to relocate their businesses.

The closure resulted in a downturn in the demand for high cost and executive houses, offices, warehouses and impacted negatively on people’s assets. Going around the city, residential houses are vacant, offices and warehouses are empty, a stark reminder of the loss in business in the city. Francistown carries the burden of supporting major villages and rural economies with services and hope for a better life in the entire northeastern part of Botswana, which have felt the heat of the mine closure.

Although the mines are a source of employment to many people and bring with them countless opportunities, they are also dangerous places to work at, especially if they become too deep.

The bad year of the country’s mining industries was also punctuated by fatal accidents that claimed four lives at BCL Mine in Selebi-Phikwe in May.

The BCL miners perished when a rope snapped while a cage was transporting workers at the end of their shift.

The incident had shattered the fatality-prone BCL Mine safety priorities, which have been questionable. As for the past two years (2014/2015) the mine recorded the highest number of fatalities in the sector, with 11 deaths.

It was indeed a very bad year for the mining industry. Its woes were capped by the recent provisional liquidation that hit BCL, leaving more than 5,000 workers in the lurch.

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