Saturday, October 31, 2020

Debswana OLM soldiers on despite challenges

Debswana Orapa and Letlhakane Mines continue to surpass productions despite a number of challenges and hiccups that affect the mines operations. General Manager Seb Sebetlela told a media and stakeholders briefing last week that despite a number of challenges that have affected the mining giant’s production they are still within range to reach and even surpass targeted production this year.

In his state of the business address, Sebetlela said that the Orapa and Letlhakane mines’ carat production and waste stripping are well ahead of target. However tons treated remains slightly behind schedule due to a number of factors that have affected production forecasts this year.

When explaining the mines expansion projects Sebetlela said that plans are underway to convert the old No 1 plant into a tailings treatment facility. “A feasibility study has already been approved by the board of directors and work on the design, cost and time implications will continue until next year. However implementation of all these projects will depend on approval by the board of directors” said Sebetlela.

The No 3 plant is set to replace the ageing No 1 plant, which is well over 30 years old. Debswana is also constructing a pilot plant in Orapa at which resource from Letlhakane mines will be treated to establish the profitability of creating a Letlhakane tails treatment plant.

It, however, emerged that the projected expansion projects put a strain on Debswana especially with a view to demands on manpower, water, electricity and other inputs.

As part of its mitigation efforts Debswana is doing research to explore saline water resources in the Makgadikgadi pans to augment their ever increasing water needs. At the same time the mine is also looking at ways of replenishing water supply and is in constant consultation with the relevant stakeholders to try and find ways of sourcing more water without depriving the community and degrading the environment.

“We are also constantly engaging in new innovations to try and reduce our operations’ water consumption per ton treated. For example we have reservoirs to retain water and reuse it” he said.

However Sebetlela concurred that they are faced with a number of daunting challenges that have proved to be detrimental to their smooth operations. Among these are shortage of skills, shortage of power and the ever increasing prices of steel, fuel, tyres and power costs. All these factors, said Sebetlela combine to make our operations a bit more difficult.

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