As Debswana’s Jwaneng Mine goes from an open shaft to a pit mine, safety could be one of the biggest hurdles that the mine has to circumvent judging from the latest incident in which several miners were trapped and one lost his life.
In his Report to Society for 2011, the CEO, Jim Gowans says he was disturbed by the safety when he says in his report, “2011 proved to be a challenging year regarding safety.”
In June 2011, a contractor was electrocuted during the commissioning of a new drill rig in Jwaneng. “Debswana considers any fatality unacceptable, and full investigations of these incidents were undertaken and corrective action plans implemented,” says Gowans.
In all, five fatalities occurred in 2011 related to Jwaneng, including four other contractors who died in a bus accident between Jwaneng and Kanye.
“A priority moving forward will be to reduce lost time injuries through safety training and a cultural shift to ensure a safer working environment,” the CEO said.
He added: “In 2012 Debswana will continue to maintain an uncompromising focus on safety and zero harm.”
However this was never to be as tragedy befell Jwaneng Mine last week, claiming one life in the process.
Jwaneng Cut 8 project is poised to make the mine a pit mine and Gowans says 28 million tonnes of waste material has been moved to extend the life of the mine from 2017 to 2025, yielding 100 million carats in the process.
Gowans said of the Cut 8 project: “The project is expected to be completed in June 2012, transforming Jwaneng Mine into one of the world’s few super-pit mines.”
In another development, Debswana launched a three-year strategy to transform the business into a cost and operationally efficient business and in the process 700 jobs were shed.
“Regrettably, the subsequent restructuring led to almost 700 job losses through the year,” Gowans says in his report.
The company had to go on a robust stakeholder engagement plan to communicate the new strategy to all employees which caused friction with the Botswana Mine Workers Union.
Debswana says where possible it will strive to conserve cash by eliminating discretionary expenditure and review production activity such that only cash efficient activities that are core and time critical are undertaken.
The mining company says it will retain talented, innovative, diverse and engaged workforce for current and future business needs.