The MD for diamond company Debswana, Jim Gowans, has called on the mining industry to continue training and upgrading the skills of its workforce, despite the threats of recession.
Speaking during a Chamber of Mines dinner that was hosted by African Copper in Francistown last week, he said that despite the predicted double dip recession, skills must always be developed and be available when the recession has passed.
“When the industry is back to full production capacity, so should the skills be available to match this,” he said.
The General Manager lauded the Botswana Chamber of Mines in its drive to train and develop the skills of the mining workforce, saying that the initiative does not only benefit the mining industry, but the country as a whole.
He went on to praise the Botswana government for its internship programmes, saying that it is an initiative which needs support as it is aimed at delivering readymade skills to all industries.
“The Mining Industry has always developed its own skills through similar programmes and this has worked well for us,” Gowans said.
He also lauded the Botswana Chamber of Mines for its exercise to develop the country’s economy by diversifying the procurement process to focus on local products and services.
He said that such a move will assist in building up required services or products in the country and translate to cheaper delivery thus reducing the costs of operations. Touching on the issues of safety in the mining industry, he said that although there has been a good safety track record over the past five years, there is still a need to make further improvements.
“The Mining industry has recorded a relatively good safety record over the past five years with an average lost time injury frequency rate of 0.32, but there is still a need to impose downward pressure on this rate,” he said.
The General Manager went on to encourage the mining industry to take heed of the international issues on environment saying that they are becoming more prevalent. He reminded the participants that mining is naturally destructive to the environment and encouraged the industry to find ways of alleviating this destruction. He said that the mines should rehabilitate their post mining activities such that communities around the mining areas can associate and support the mining industry.
“Although Botswana is fortunate to be having a population density that is quite low, the land must be used prudently for future generations,” he said.
The objective of the Botswana Chamber of Mines dinner was to discuss the achievements and challenges faced by the organization.