Majwe Mining joint venture has in earnest begun to prepare Batswana for the global skills race through investment in human resources development in mining.
To this end, the company has invested P25 million to provide pro-active training programmes across many areas of mining, including among others, workforce training in heavy equipment operation and maintenance, first aid, fire fighting, basic life support, working at heights, isolation and lock out procedures, emergency response and tyre management.
Further, the company has embarked on a Secondment Overseas Programme to Australia to train Batswana and has also adopted the National Internship Programme to train interns.
Two Majwe Mining joint venture employees who were seconded to Australia last year arrived on Tuesday after being exposed to the open cast coal mines of Queensland.
“Australia has many occupational safety laws. Legislation that governs the mining industry in Australia is very clear. It is a legal requirement in Australia for mines to have a single safety management system to work in accordance with that of a client,” said Israel Monkutlwatsi Safety Officer at Majwe Mining, who had been seconded to Australia.
He said that the Australian law recognises Industrial Health and Safety Representatives who are drawn from the labour unions.
“In terms of the Safety and Health regulations, an Industrial Health and Safety Representative is empowered by the regulations to stop any mining operation task if it is not safe,” said Monkutlwatsi.
The expectation from Majwe Mining is that technical services personnel from the company seconded to Australia will share their experiences at high level and any other level and adapt and introduce changes for the benefit of the organization, so says Ian McRae – the company’s Mining Project Director.
“We are committed to leaving a legacy of enhanced skills across many levels of mining operations and management. Overall to date, Majwe has provided in excess of 30 000 man-days of training for all our Batswana employees. This is a significant achievement for any business,” said McRae.
“The move by Majwe Mining is humbling in the sense that when you see a mining giant investing in skills development, it shows that they believe the human resource available locally is easily trainable,” said Dr. Bathsheba Mbongwe, the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs. She said such human resource development will have a direct bearing on the country’s ability to attract Foreign Direct Investment.
Bothakga General Manager, Lefoko Moagi, said there should be no worries as to what happens to interns after they receive training from Majwe Mining but are not all employed by the company, revealing that there are a lot of opportunities which interns could tap into both locally and externally.
“Interns can basically export their skills and come back to Botswana more refined. In mining, for instance, the traditional blasting techniques of using blasting sticks have been replaced by electronic detonators. With the advent of new technology, mineral deposits previously regarded as low grades are now being exploited including waste mining. There are about 200 billion tonnes of coal reserves in the eastern parts of Botswana, In the Zambian copper belt, iron ore, uranium, oil and gas deposits are some of the opportunities that the interns can tap into,” said Moagi.
Majwe Mining is a joint-venture company comprising Australian-based Leighton Contractors, Basil Read Mining of South Africa and Bothakga Burrow Botswana. The company is contracted by Debswana Diamond Company to provide mining services for the multi-million Pula Jwaneng Mine Cut 8 ÔÇô Phase 2 Project.
The company currently employs over 700 Batswana.