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Cut 3 Project may expand lifespan of Orapa Mine

OLDM general manager Bakani Motlhabani PIC: LEBOGANG MOSIKARE
ORAPA: Diamond behemoth-Debswana is continuing to study the expansion of its Orapa operations as the Cut 3 Pre-Feasibility Studies are ongoing, the General Manager (GM) of Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines (OLDM) Bakani Motlhabani revealed recently.

The GM disclosed that when updating various stakeholders during the 2020 OLDM Community Engagement Forum.

Without giving much details about the Cut 3 Project because it is at pre-feasibility stage, Motlhabani stated that the proposed undertaking is expected to move into Feasibility Studies next year with a decision to start the Project expected several years later.

“It is anticipated that the Cut 3 Project could create job opportunities for Batswana and increase business opportunities for local companies including small enterprises. We also expect our associated long-term service providers to continue to support additional mine infrastructure and fleet. Also once the project has started implementation, we expect to collaborate with local authorities and Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to upgrade existing infrastructure and services,” said an ecstatic Motlhabani.

Motlhabani added that following full approvals by the Board, the commencement of the Cut 3 Project would also lead to the relocation of the Orapa Technical College to Letlhakane in line with the concept of Orapa Today, Boteti Tomorrow.

The Orapa Today, Boteti Tomorrow is an initiative aimed at developing and sustaining people living within Boteti after the OLDM has closed in future.

On other issues, Motlhabani told the audience that the Fine Residue Disposal (FRD) 3, a project that was initiated to build a slime dam in order to provide capacity for the life of Orapa Mine, is progressing well and nearing completion.

“The project was constructed with P2,3 billion and is expected to be completed in April this year. 1,200 people were hired to work at the slime dam when the project was at its peak but now only 532 employees are working at the project,” said Motlhabani.

The GM also talked about the proposed construction of South Gate and access road in future.

“When this project is ongoing, the road to the east gate will be closed in order to facilitate the convenient rehabilitation of FDR1 and FDR2 dams,” he explained.

On a sad note, Motlhabani revealed that the diamond industry experienced a progressive slow down especially

the midstream industries last year due to the trade war between two world super powers, United States of America (USA) and China.

“The slowdown was largely due to industry macro forces such as trade war between USA and China, the heightened Hong Kong protests as well as the ongoing extended Brexit process. These have resulted in higher than normal polished diamonds inventories in the midstream caused by weaker consumer demand.

Polished demand stable but patchy, a good view on polished demand sustainability closer to end of first quarter 2020 Demand is anticipated to grow at a lower rate compared to 2019. This is due to continued economic uncertainty, related to a recent slowing in global manufacturing activity, higher tariffs, negative interest rates and others,” Motlhabani said.

The OLDM’s forum was attended by officials from different government departments, parastatals, community-based organisations, chiefs, media and politicians amongst others from the Boteti Sub-district graced the forum.

The objective of the forum was to brief OLDM’s key stakeholders about its business operations, community initiatives and the impact of the mines’ activities on communities.

Topics that were discussed during the gathering included Business Performance and Projects Update-which dealt with how OLDM performed over the years, projects currently going on, future projects and the safety of the employees.

Another topic that was discussed at the event by the GM was the Social Way Overview which entails minimising negative social impacts and maximising socio-economic benefits to host communities.

Motlhabani also addressed the issue of Community Grievances, which deals with steps that members of communities affected by OLDM’s operations should follow when they want to give the mine some ideas, compliments and grievances.

The GM also briefed the attendees about the engagements that OLDM had with various stakeholders within its zone of influence, Boteti Sub-District last year.

Lastly, Motlhabani briefed his audience about the issue of Corporate Social Investment (CSI). CSI is a self-regulating business model that helps a company to be socially accountable—to itself, its stakeholders and the public.




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