Khoemacau Copper Mine has dismissed accusations by Botswana Miners Workers Union (BMWU) that it is flouting employee safety regulations. This follows an incident in which two mine employees at the mine lost their lives in an accident in May 2022. The employees were working for Barminco, a company sub-contracted by Khoemacau to do its mining activities. Following the fatal incident, the union condemned the mine of keeping a blind eye to the safety of employees among other issues.
But now the Executive Director -Stakeholder Engagement, Sustainability and Legal Compliance at KCM Boikobo Paya says Khoemacau has built a safe, reliable, fully mechanized mine and the mine is fully committed to zero harm as far as safety and health of employees are concerned.
According to Paya, the copper miner also takes necessary actions to prevent a repetition of such an accident.
“Khoemacau and more importantly Barminco management have, and will continue to make every effort to assist the families of the deceased”, adds Paya.
The Union has also accused Khoemacau management for failing to engage them on issues of safety. Paya however said the assertion by the Union is not true as management engages with employees including the union on such issues. He said BMWU is aware that Khoemacau is always ready and willing to meet and discuss any safety matter.
“Khoemacau management is positive that together with the Union we are still to achieve greater things in the future,” says Paya.
BMWU has further pointed a blaming finger at Khoemacau of victimization of employees, favoritism and racism. Responding to such allegations, Paya says there are both independent and internal channels for the union to have used to report such, if these allegations have any basis. Paya says BMWU is also free to bring these issues up in their meetings and are aware that Khoemacau is always ready and willing to discuss such issues and if found valid and a remedial action will be taken.
“We have well-known and respected Tip-offs Anonymous or Whistleblower systems in Botswana administered and run by Deloittes where such allegations can be reported,” he adds.
On accusations by the Union that the mine is bringing in unskilled labour from Australia on the disguise of skills transfer, Paya simply says such allegations are false. He maintains that the mine brings highly competent operators with years of mechanized years of experience. Paya maintains that foreign employees are here not only to operate and train employees, but mainly to transfer skills
“The vast majority of employees are Batswana citizens and most of them are from nearby towns and villages,”
BMWU has since pleaded with the government to intervene by enforcing compliance and making sure that the mine abides by the mining regulations under the Mines, Quarries Works and Machinery Regulations.
Khoemacau Copper Mine is owned by Cupric Canyon Capital LP an Australian company. The Sub Contracting Company, Barminco Mining Services is also owned by another Australian company – Parenti.