Thursday, August 13, 2020

Debswana battle ready to combat COVID-19

As one of the stringent measures to avert the spread of COVID 19, the mining giant Debswana Diamond Company says its decisions on production levels will be made in due course based on available market insights.

Currently it is not clear how the outbreak and spread of Coronavirus is likely to affect the multibillion Debswana ongoing projects such Cut 9 in Jwaneng mine and Cut 3 in Orapa mine.

Mitigation plans are said to be in place to safeguard the company and ensure sustainability, as the focus now is on keeping the employees and contractors safe.  This week the company confirmed that all regional and international travel has been suspended. An intensive health awareness and information programme has been deployed to employees on an ongoing basis through multiple communication platforms, which is based on factual information availed by health authorities.  

Debswana Acting Managing Director (MD), Lynette Armstrong said all visitors any of their sites are temperature screened and also required to declare their travel history. She added that visitors who have travelled to COVID – 19 affected areas and are or have experienced symptoms related to COVID – 19 are not be permitted to enter their sites unless they provide medical fitness declaration.

“We discourage employees from travelling outside Botswana even in their personal capacity, however in the event that they do for any genuine emergencies such as medical referrals. They are required to not return to work upon their return and self-isolate for the mandatory 14-day period,” said Armstrong.

She further spoke of the weekly screening for employees is also being done in order to proactively manage the risk of infection and protect all employees and contractors working at their sites. She added that biometric (finger print) access points to buildings and alcohol testing blowers have been suspended until further notice.

“Shift-working including working from home has been introduced, effective 23rd March 2020, with guidelines in order to limit interaction and ensure the safety of employees,” she stated. 

Quizzed on scheduled events, she said besides the postponed stakeholder engagement event that was scheduled for March 19th, there are no major events planned due to COVID – 19 restrictions. Armstrong is of the view that, as a responsible corporate citizen, and in compliance with the directives advised by the government of Botswana, they have resolved not to schedule any public events or engagements that would require large gatherings beyond the stipulated numbers until the situation normalizes and these restrictions have been lifted. 

“We have conducted the necessary risk assessment on all key expansion projects and have developed several scenarios in response. We will continue to monitor the situation,” said Armstong. 

She believes that that is key right now is critical decisions and prioritisation to ensure their sustainability as a business, adding that it is important for them to remain focused on long-term life extending projects. She is of the view that it is important for them, like everyone else, to act responsibly in line with the directives from government.

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