Batswana are aware of benefits of the mining sector, including diamond mining but they seem to lack keen interest in exploring the spin offs from the industry.
This came to light during an interview with Managing Director of Gem Diamonds Botswana, Hailey Mphusu, on Friday.
“Batswana are aware of the enormous benefit diamond mining has on our economy in terms of money derived from the sale of diamonds and used by government for development. However when it comes to the other spin offs such as supply of materials and service to the industry. Involvement in the downstream processes there is need to educate our citizens so that they can exploit and benefit,” said Mphusu.
He said their ignorance on beneficiations including supplying spare parts and other necessities leaves mining companies with no alternatives but to give the ‘jobs’ to foreign companies who know of these opportunities.
Mphusu, whose company’s diamond mine was officially opened in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) early September revealed that their understanding of the importance of investing in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSRI) with main purpose of improving the socio-economic well-being of communities where they operate from they recently extended helping hand to communities surrounding their mine.
“We are aware that even though our mine’s lifespan might be some decades, there will come a time when it would not be operational. Those communities within the vicinity of the mine would nonetheless still need means of survival. To address this, we came up with several some initiatives like adoption of the Kaudwane Primary School,” he said.
To start with, the mine engaged in extension of staff room, refurbishment of school kitchen, school toilets and repairing school generator and connecting electricity to the classrooms.
They also drilled and equipped boreholes for communities of Mothomelo, Molapo and provision of treated water for Gope in the CKGR; Gope, which is closest to the mine currently being supplied with portable water through a pipeline from the site.
Upgrading of Lephephe waste dump which services Lephephe and nearby villages and the Ghanghoo Diamond Mine, dump site access road and perimeter fence have been maintained; working with design for waste separation cell to facilitate waste recycling are also some of the projects the mine has under taken.
The mine has furthermore established a trust fund, which includes one trustee from Lephephe and Kaudwane villages, and three are employees of the mine. He said funds have been injected into the Fund’s account. The trust fund would be handed to the community one time is ripe since the communities do not yet have enough skilled manpower to run it.