Thursday, October 28, 2021

Meet Naseem Lahri: A first Motswana woman to become a Mine Managing Director

She has been the company’s Chief Financial Officer and director since March 2013 but now, Naseem Lahri has been named the first Motswana woman to become a managing director of a big mining operation located in Boteti district.

On a day in which workers across the globe joined hands to celebrate the annual workers day (May 1), Lahri celebrated twice. Her 17 years experience in the mining industry finally paid off as she was named the first Managing Director of Boteti Mining Ltd – a subsidiary of Lucara Diamonds.

“I have always had a dream to become the first woman in the country to become a managing director. I hope to bring a local flavour to the company and represent the country well”, Lahri told Sunday Standard in the capital Gaborone on Friday.

Before the appointment of Lahri to the MD position, Lucara had abolished the position but following recent corporate changes, the junior diamond miner decided to reintroduce it.

Lahri’s 17 years experience in the mining sector includes 10 years spent at Debswana Mining Company under its corporate finance department.

Lahri is an accomplished Professional Accountant with a Masters in Strategic Management (BCOM, FCCA). She has also served as a board member in the Debswana Pension Fund, Botswana Accountancy College and Pula Medical Aid.

In her expanded new role as Managing Director, Boteti, Naseem will have oversight in all aspects of the business and as a matter of priority, will be working closely with General Manager Johane Mchive.

Mchive was appointed in 2017, to help drive improved performance at the Karowe diamond mine.

The mine is worldwide known for producing exceptional stones. In April 2018, the company unearthed a giant 327 carat diamond, hardly two weeks after they laid claim to a massive 472 carat light brown diamond.

Now under the watchful eyes of Lahri, Karowe mine has been a source of large gems that continue to astonish the markets.

The mine has proven to be a good bet for Lucara, a Canadian miner, which bought 70 percent of the mine in 2009 from DeBeers for just $49 million. It later acquired 100 percent ownership of the mine when it bought African Diamonds for $70.3 million in stock. Since then, Karowe mine has been a rare source of exceptional diamonds with its consistent recovery of large high value diamonds. Although it produces less than 1 percent of world’s diamonds, the mine is recovering more than 50 percent of the world’s diamonds larger than 100 carats.

“The recent exceptional diamonds will be sold through a normal tender process, unlike Lesedi La Rona”, Lahri told Sunday Standard during a short meet and greet at Avani Hotel in Gaborone on Friday.

She added that there is niche market for the large stones thus the decision by the company to continue mining such.

UNDERGROUND MINING

Amongst other things, Lahri is expected to oversee the company’s extension into the underground.

In 2017, the Lucara outlined plans for an underground extension of the Karowe mine in following publication of a preliminary economic assessment which envisages total production of 2.72 million carats from 2026 when the current open-cast mine at Karowe is exhausted.

“A pre feasibility study has since commenced and should give us an indication by the first quarter next year on whether we should go ahead with the extension”, Lahri said.

While the company looks intro going underground, Lahri says it is also equally exploring for more assets in the Boteti areas. As a result, she says there is need for a stronger partnership with the government.

“This is a critical relationship. Although we are a private company, we need that strong partnership with the government since we get license from her”.

Lahri says amongst other things, Lucara pays a 10 percent royalties tax as well as corporate tax of over 50 percent. The company has also embarked on a series of CSI projects in the Boteti region where its main operations are.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper