The marriage that has taken place between Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) and BCL mines of Selebi Phikwe has future economic benefits for the country.
The two have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will see mining tourism begin in the country.
A development that has been understood as a strategic move given that tourism sector has been acknowledged as key to economic diversification.
Under the provisions of the MoU, BCL granted BIUST access to a decommissioned underground mining shaft as well as an open cast mine in order that they can develop it into a mining and geological museum.
Also, BIUST will set up a mining environmental research center, science educational centre and a geological teaching and research field laboratory.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the BIUST Vice Chancellor, Professor Kweku Bentil, said the geological and mining museum will be a tourist attraction, which will be above and below the ground.
“This will serve as Botswana’s first tourism mining facility,” he said.
Bentil noted that the mining museum is proposed to be a tourist attraction that will promote tourism and stimulate economic activity in Selebi-Phikwe.
Envisaged in the agreement is a science educational centre, which will be above the ground, a similar development like the Tsukuba Science Centre in Japan.
Bentil noted that the facility will serve students at BIUST as well as other students from local, regional and global institutions.
He revealed that “this facility will be accessible to institutions from all over the world, a move that will bring in foreign currency into the country.”
Bentil noted that the mining environmental research center is intended to provide a real world field research centre with opportunities for environmental researchers and scientists from around the world. To engage in studies and technology transfer to solve mining environmental problems such as acid rain and other mines related pollution.
The BCL General Manager Montwedi Mpathi noted that the agreement is of great economic benefit to the town of Selebi Phikwe.
“This will create jobs and provide new employment opportunities for the local Selebi Phikwe residents,” he said.
He appreciated the development of a research center at the mine as it would serve to identify some of the precise problems affecting the mines in Botswana.
Mpathi noted that the field laboratory is also intended to provide opportunities for conducting research that would benefit the mining sector.
Bentil noted that the centre is proposed to provide real world field experience for University and Technical college students enrolled in mining engineering and technology as well as other related programs.
Mpathi appreciated this move as the mine would have the opportunity to train the students robustly, such that after school they would be ready for employment.
“This would reduce the chances of us employing foreign nationals,” he said.
Bentil noted that this is a first step towards the development of the first ever Botswana mining museum and educational research centre at the BCL mines.