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Mining sector in turmoil

JWANENG: The deputy director in the department of mines, Rahul Deo Bohra said recently that the mining sector has been in turmoil after losing 10,000 people to the unemployment ranks during the past four years or so.

Speaking at a Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM) dinner hosted by the Debswana Jwaneng Mine Thursday last week, Bohra noted that before the BCL Group shutdown, Botswana had seen the liquidation of African Copper and Boseto mines in a space of less than two years.

“This operational termination came with the hard reality of massive job losses,” he said and added that in 2016, Ghaghoo Mine was also placed under care and maintenance with more job losses.

“Just recently, Lerala Mine has also added hundreds more job losses to the mining industry’s horror archives, when it was placed under provisional liquidation and later taken through public auction via online bidding platform in May, 2018,” Bohra stated, indicating that the mine’s closure made a total of over 10,000 direct mining sector job losses to be recorded from 2014 to date.

A quick breakdown of mines-related job losses show that the BCL Mine accounts for over 5,000 job losses, its subsidiary Tati Nickel Mine over 700 and over 2,000 recorded at Boseto and African Copper mines.

Bohra was elated that it appears there is still light at the end of the tunnel in the mining sector in Botswana.

“The mining sector is currently moving rigorously to diversify economic activities away from mining. As Botswana moves (with base metals) to dilute the

dominance of the traditional diamond subsector, it has emerged that Botswana sits on vast economical mineralisation even though most are in the lower end of the ore grades.”

Apart from the traditional copper-nickel and coal, which has been complementing the lucrative diamonds sector for some years, Bohra has also revealed that Botswana soils are covering reserves of some of the most valuable industrial minerals. These include amongst others lead, zinc, silver, vanadium and manganese deposits, which exploration experts classify as some of the world’s high grade reserves.

These metals' mineralisation exists in high grade deposits that would compete very well in the market for industrial uptake in global markets together with heavy processing and hardware manufacturing plants.

On the BCM record, Bohra indicated that the BCM has a technical committee composed of all safety, health and environmental practitioners in the mines that meet twice a year to deliberate on strategic issues. However, despite all these efforts, there are still remained intrinsic occupational risks that pose danger to employees and machinery.

The government has therefore legislated and noted that authorities be mandated to ensure that the risks are reduced or eliminated where possible.

“The management of mining operations and the leadership of organised labour have joined efforts to manage these occupational risks together with all employees on site.”





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