BGI repairs soil testing machines


FRANCISTOWN: If the words of the Botswana Geoscience Institute (BGI) are anything to go by, illegal gold miners who were mining gold illegally in Francistown and other disused mines in the city’s environs will now be brought to book.

Towards the end of 2021 and beginning of this year, cases of people, mostly Zimbabweans, who were charged with unlawful prospecting of minerals without a permit or licence authorising them to do so, were withdrawn because of lack of evidence.

The withdrawal of the cases dissatisfied the police who said after much effort and the resources they used to arrest the illegal miners, the cases end up being withdrawn at the Francistown Magistrate’s Courts because soil testing machines that BGI uses to test the soil samples that the accused were alleged to have been mining were malfunctioning. Prosecutors from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) were in equal measure incensed about the withdrawal of the cases following their efforts to prosecute.

This was after accused persons were arraigned in court. In response to a questionnaire from Mmegi, the marketing and communications manager at BGI, James Molosankwe confirmed the status quo. He said: “We confirm that BGI is a parastatal under the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security.

The Institute is mandated, among other things, to undertake research in the field of geosciences, which include mineral assessments that may involve collaborating with other stakeholders such as the DPP. Our work involves the use of high profile and specialised equipment and machinery, which are supported by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs),” Molosankwe explained. “Regrettably, the spares are not readily available as off the shelf items. Sourcing such repair spares has long lead times.

The COVID-19 travel restrictions also affected delivery particularly in relation to cross-border travel of specialists to Botswana for installation and commissioning,” said Molosankwe. Molosankwe added: “We further inform you that the Institute has a plan to continue its laboratory tests in the form of having a complimentary testing machine on standby which also broke down unexpectedly. These testing machines have now been repaired and we will continue to offer our services as authorised. We regret that this situation has affected the processing of court cases and was undeniably beyond our control.”

Editor's Comment
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