Botswana Miners Workers Union (BMWU) has accused Khoemacau Copper Mine (KCM) for neglecting employee safety. The accusation comes in the backdrop of an accident which claimed the lives of two employees who were working for Barminco Mining Services, a company sub-contracted by KCM to provide underground mining services. The accident happened in May 2022.
The Union has since written a press statement saying that these fatalities are a proof that the mining company does not care about the safety of its employees. In an interview with the Sunday Standard last week the Deputy General Secretary at BMWU, Kabelo Special Maano said they have tried in vain to engage the main contractor KCM, but they are always given different excuses.
“Our main blame lies with the main contractor Khoemacau Copper Mine for neglecting safety issues. Whenever we call them to engage into this issue, we are given various excuses. According to Regulations 6(1) of the Mines Quarries Works and Machinery Regulations, the appointed manager of the mineral right holder, in this instance KCM is responsible for the conduct of its subcontractors,” he said.
The Union is also unhappy that after the fatal mine accident happened, all key stakeholders were told about the incident except them.
Maano also said KCM management has been reluctant to permit the Union into their operations and effectively denying workers the right to associate and collectively bargain for better conditions of work including on safety and health related issues. He also said that they have received numerous reports of victimization, favoritism and racism by foreign managers against local employees at KCM.
“We have also received reports of unqualified experts from Australia under the disguise of skills transfer,” said Maano
Maano said it is high time that authorities in government probe into KCM operations and its management. The Union also alleges in the press statement that KCM and its subcontractor Parenti another Australian company which owns Barminco Mining Services have continued to do as they please since inception with no regulation and supervision from the government authorities. The Union has called on the government to enforce compliance with the mining regulations under the Mines, Quarries Works and Machinery Regulations.
Khoemacau Copper Mine had not yet responded to the Sunday Standard questions regarding the allegations at the time of going to press last week. However, the Executive Director Stakeholder Engagement, Sustainability and Legal Compliance Boikobo Paya told this reporter on Friday that he is still yet to discuss the questions with his principals and give feedback.
Located in Ngamiland District, 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.