Some farmers at Nkgoge farming area between Mogome and Radisele in the Central District are up in arms against looming quarrying activity in the vicinity of their farms.
Farmers allege the company has begun felling trees in proximity of their farms meaning they are likely to be farming side by side with the quarrying company.
Chief among their concerns is that quarrying being a nuisance mining activity, their health and those of their livestock as well as game found in the area will be inadvertently affected.
“We believe that Mahalapye Sub-Land Board only consulted residents of Mogome who are not necessarily farmers at Nkgoge. If the community had access to both the Environmental Impact Assessment and Archaeology Impact Assessment, they would have been in a better position to make wise and informed decisions,” said Oarabile Keakeditswe spokesperson of the affected farmers.
Ngwato Land Board has confirmed that some farmers have complained to the Mahalapye Sub Land Board after Lesedi Partners was allocated surface rights in 2010.
The Principal Public Relations and Information Officer, Chandapiwa Baputaki, says to this end, the sub land board will meet with some aggrieved farmers today (Sunday) over the same issue.
Procedurally, before surface rights can be allocated by the land board, the applicant has to identify the area and consult those around the area, consult the land overseer, submit evidence of consultation, get a technical officer to visit the site and prepare a sketch plan before the application is presented to the land board for resolution.
Lesedi Partners (Pty) Ltd intends to engage in quarry mining at Nkgoge Hill in the vicinity where farming takes place. The company’s managing director, Base Segolodi, confirmed that his company intends to go into quarrying activities. He claims to have consulted affected stakeholders at a kgotla meeting last year.
He says there is no mining activity as the company only cut down trees to clear way for purposes of measurements and survey diagrams.
“There is no mining activity taking place as yet. I am in the process of getting a mining licence and a prospecting licence. I have purchased a quarry plant worth about P5 million which is lying idle while I obtain the required licences to mine,” he said.
The company admitted that it has not submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment final draft report with the Department of Environmental Affairs. The Department of Environmental Affairs says it is still awaiting the draft final report from Lesedi Partners.
“Consultations were undertaken through a kgotla meeting on the 8th of February 2011 at Mogome. The Consultant report indicates that only the community was consulted through mandatory kgotla meeting and no objections were registered. Other interested and affected parties were not consulted and the DEA [Department of Environmental Affairs] has subsequently requested that other stakeholders be consulted on the proposed development before submission of the final report to the DEA for consideration,” says the departmental spokesperson Mable Bolele.
Framers’ claims that there exists game in the area have also been confirmed by Bolele.
“Through consultations with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) in Serowe, animal species that are generally found in the Mogome area are Kudu, Steenbok, Duiker, Impala and Black Jackal,” she says.
Segolodi claims his company applied with the Department of Geological Services for a prospecting licence but it was turned down.
The Department of Geological Services says the company does not have any prospecting licences in Botswana.
“In recommending issuing of a Prospecting Licence, we look at factors such as whether the proposed program of prospecting is adequate, whether there are financial resources to cover exploration and the expertise of the technical people engaged in the project,” says Principal Geologist Tiyapo Ngwisanyi.
Similarly, the Department of Mines says it has never received a mining licence application from or issued a quarry mining licence to Letsatsi Partners (Pty) Ltd.
According to the acting Director of Mines, Gabotshwarege Tshekiso, the procedure for obtaining a mining licence is such that one must obtain a prospecting licence from the Department of Geological Survey and conduct exploration for the mineral and carryout a feasibility study for mining project.
The next step is to obtain surface rights lease from the land authority. After that, you conduct an environmental impact assessment and have it approved by the Department of Environmental Affairs. You also conduct Archaeological impact assessment and have it approved by the Department of National Museum and Monuments and complete mining licence application and submit it to the Department of Mines.