Govít stalls use of scanners at Debswana Mines

Jwaneng mine workers.PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Jwaneng mine workers.PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

FRANCISTOWN: Debswana is ready to introduce the use of scannex technology at its mines but cannot do so as they are yet to fulfil certain regulatory requirements, company officials have said .

Scannex is a low X-ray dose, full body scanner designed to guard against diamond theft. The machine’s main use is to detect illegal diamond trade by personnel working in diamond mining operations.

Debswana’s Orapa, Letlhakane and Demtshaa Mines (OLDM) general manager, Bakani Motlhabani told a media briefing early this week that the company meant to introduce the scannex technology more than five years ago but nothing is yet to materialise.

“We are still working on satisfying several necessities required by government and other stakeholders. We hope that issues we have with our stakeholders most notably the government regarding requirements that should be met will be resolved soon but I cannot guarantee that,” Motlhabani said when asked why it has taken too long to introduce the scannex technology.


Asked to clarify his stance on the requirements of the stakeholders, Motlhabani said, “I cannot go into specifics. All I can say is that it is vital to satisfy all the requirements by our stakeholders to avoid resistance (from stakeholders) during the implementation stage.” 

Debswana currently uses a physical search method to detect diamond theft. Debswana’s sister companies in South Africa and Namibia have been using the technology for more than five years.

In 2013 Debswana officials told the media that current physical search methods used by the mine are not efficient to detect and recover all stolen diamonds that could be hidden within the human body.

“X-rays are the only known method capable of consistently detecting diamonds that are hidden within the human body,” Rachel Mothibatsela, corporate communication manager at Debswana said. Debswana has also indicated that physical search, which has been going on for years, is very traumatic to employees who go through the physical search strip naked. The search strategy is applied to workers who work in high risk areas.

The Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) has in the past been quoted in the media expressing fear that scannex technology will expose Debswana employees to radiation which can have crippling health implications.

On the other hand, Debswana maintains that the scannex machine is a low dosage x-ray machine from which workers will receive a very low x-ray dosage per year which will not compromise their health. In 2013 during a media tour Debswana said the scannex technology would cost approximately P40 million.

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