Sunday, March 26, 2023

Debswana allays job loss fears at Letlhakane mine

Debswana has moved fast to allay fears of retrenchments and job losses at its Letlhakane mine, which is nearing the end of its lifespan in 2017. Last week, the mine announced that plans are underway to ensure that the mine maintains sustainability into the future through its tailings resource treatment project.

Cecily Kuswane, Acting Public and Corporate Affairs Manager at Debswana Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa mines said last week that the plant throughput will remain steady even though ex-pit production levels have gone down. She added that more jobs will be created at the mine as it rolls out its Letlhakane Mine Tailings Resource Treatment Project (LMTRTP), which will recover diamonds from tailings using new and improved recovery technologies.

The diamond pits at Letlhakane mine have reached depths that limit conventional open pit mining, forcing the mine management to initiate the tailings treatment project in October 2011 as a way of alleviating job losses and ensuring future sustainability.

“The tailings treatment project will protect existing jobs when stockpiles get depleted in 2017. We are assured that stockpiles of ore will be available for treatment post conventional pit mining as the plant faces closure by 2017,” said Kevin Mokotedi, Operation Readiness Manager at Debswana.

Funds for implementation of the project were approved in November 2014 and will extend the life of Letlhakane mine by over 24 years. Construction began in Q1:2015 and the mine continues to explore other mining options like slope steepening and underwater mining. The project will include constriction of a treatment plant and a 66KV power line with accessories. Construction will be completed in Q3:2016, followed by commissioning and handover by September 2017. The tailings resource treatment project is expected to produce 800 000 carats of diamonds per annum. Already, local contractors like Kalcon, CCB, Prentec, Electrical Installations and Hoisting Solutions have been engaged to carry out bulk earthworks, structural mechanical piping and plate work.

“As Debswana we encourage use of local labour and locally procured goods by contractors. A joint venture between a foreign company called Redis and a local company called NTR has been awarded the biggest contract by value in the whole project. Debswana will lead the project management while a company called Fluor will provide technical support,” said Mokotedi. “Jobs have already been created by engaging various contractors who will also seek accommodation and other services from nearby villages.”

He also revealed that employees who were involved in construction of the Jwaneng Modular Plant have been transferred to the LMTRTP to leverage on their expertise. Debswana has also budgeted for Legacy projects to be incorporated into the project so as to benefit local communities.

New fleet workshop

Meanwhile, Debswana has also revealed that it will spend P441million to complete its new fleet workshop. The Project Manager, Thato Serojane told journalists last week that while current operations at Orapa mine have a stripping ratio of 1:1 (waste to ore), the ratio will increase as the pit deepens.

“As the ratios increase, so does the number and size of the earth moving fleet. The original maintenance workshops and associated facilities have not been upgraded or upsized adequately over time and they will not be able to accommodate the resultant growth of the fleet,” he said.

The current mining plan indicates that the current fleet will have grown by 50 percent by 2018. With the plan to expand the Orapa pit through Cut 3, the fleet will double in size again between 2019 and 2026.

Serojane further revealed that the need for new workshop facilities was established pre-2006 after which construction of a two-bay facility started. The two-bay facility was however frozen in 2008 due to the economic downturn and later resurrected in 2011 after the board approved implementation of a complete solution by 2013.


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