Monday, June 24, 2024

Morupule Colliery chairman aims to turn Botswana into regional energy hub

Morupule Colliery Mine’s Chairman, Dr. Bonny Matshediso has sounded warning bells to the mining sector about the impending mining framework saying it will compel the industry to commit more to the empowerment  of Batswana.

“What happened with the closure of BCL mine in  Selebi Phikwe was wrong. It impacted on the lives of people in Selebi-Phikwe and  the surrounding areas.  Some people were so disadvantaged. Some even committed suicide,”  said Matshediso.

“People in Selebi Phikwe and around observe that their environment was  impacted  by  the smelter, ” he told Botswana Mining and Energy Conference on Wednesday.

“We have to ensure that mining is done responsibly without affecting human rights, “ he added.

Government officials at Fairgrounds Office Park are busy re-tooling the mining legislation that broadly  talks to Environmental, Social and Governance issues.

“If you go to Johannesburg, you will see a lot of dumps of disused mines. And you if look at Johannesburg it is  industrialised.  That ( development) happened because of the existence of the mines,” he added.

His warning  comes at a time when Botswana is  preparing herself to be the hub of power generation and supply in the  southern African region in less than 10 years

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New power focused mines will be taking -off  this year into the next three years- with Tlou Energy being in the lead by starting operations this year.

Jindal from India will be in Mmaphasalala in the Mmamabula coalfields area and A-Cap extracting uranium— fornuclear energy- also in the central district- both are expected to commence in two -to-  three years from now.

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Jindal’s  plans have been blessed by both Botswana and South African governments by committing to build a railway-line that connects it to Lephalala- in the Limpopo area. The 75 kilometre  railway line is expected to be complete in two years.

It is also building a 300 MW power station that will be connected to the Botswana Power Corporation’s (BPC) national grid.

Already there is hunger for coal in South Africa and internationally–with Morupole Colliery alone expected to move 1.2 million tonnes of coal to Botswana;s neighbour  this year.  Europe and India are also crying for Botswana’s coal.

“The government of Botswana needs to critically review the impact of mining in the local communities directly affected by the mining operations and have an input as regulator. These guidelines will provide the government of Botswana with a foundation for robust SED ( social , Economic  and development) legislation.

He said they have done extensive research which calls for the SED frameworks which will inform  the large scale mines to prepare  for SED Plan- especially in their  zone of influence. The framework is expected to act as socio-economic performance measure tool for stakeholders in the communities they operate in.

One of the proposals will call  the restructuring of the royalities  that mines pay to government. A certain percent , according to Dr.  Matshediso,  should go to the local  authorities communities that these mine operate in.

“You have to give those local communities something . Or just one percent of royalities,” he said.

“The SED framework is focused on the communities directly affected  by the mining operation because mining has a significant impact on these communities with regards to health, education infrastructure  and services.

These will include the communities being given priority in terms of employment in those mines and career development for the people of those areas.

“They should extend bursaries to every Motswana -especially in the local communities,” Dr. Matshediso said.

This frame-work has been developed in response to the abscence of voluntary SED frameworks in some of the large-scale  mines in Botswana,” he added.

Some of the things which are being worked on by government is to increase the level of participation o Botswana in mining procurement- raising their involvement to 50 percent.

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