The Botswana Chamber of Mines, a non governmental body that serves the interests of the mining and exploration companies and associated industries, has said the overall safety levels in the mines have significantly improved over the years.
The organisation’s Chief Executive Officer, Charles Siwawa, told The Telegraph that ensuring high safety standards in the mining sector is very important because the industry is inherently dangerous, with hazards all over the place.
“According to the safety measures we use to check the safety levels in mines, I can say there has been a significant improvement,” said Siwawa.
He however pointed out that the improvement in the safety levels at the mines might be disputed because of the fatalities that have been occurring lately but the overall records show an improvement.
He added that what is more encouraging is that Botswana is competing with the best mines in world on safety levels.
Botswana has lately been in the news for bad reasons following accidents and Debswana and Gem Diamonds’ operations.
A Jwaneng mine slope failure last year killed a miner while the collapse of the ground at the face of tunnel development of Ghaghoo mine claimed the lives of two contractors.
The number of serious injuries reported to the Department of Mines reduced from 73 in 1998 to 16 by mid-2013. The number of fatal injuries decreased from 10 to two over the same period.
Siwawa said enforcement of regulations and better training by mining companies are helping to improve safety in mines.
“Efforts put in place by the staff and management are having a positive impact on improving mine safety in this country,” he said.
He added that safety has to be taken seriously as it has an impact on the sector’s performance considering the mining sector is the major contributor to the economy.
BCM has instituted competitions, among them the annual BCM Mines Inter-mines first aid competition aimed at promoting safety at staff level. For 2013 BCL mine won the competition after displaying exceptional first aid skills.
Jwaneng Mine General manager, Albert Milton, shared the same sentiments that they are putting greater emphasis on safety at the mine.
“Safety is a value and we consider it as key to the sustainability of our business,” said Milton.