Friday, October 23, 2020

World Bank highlights land usage conflict in Botswana

Land issues can be the most contentious aspect of mining, particularly when there are sensitive eco-systems and limited productive land available, the World Bank has opined.

The remarks follows a case in which Morupule Coal Mine (MCM) is in a dispute with some of the farmers who hold land rights to the area that the company intends to build a new 1.35 million tonnes per annum coal mine. The mine is targeted to feed into the planned 300MW power station at Morupule B (Unit 5&6).

The World Bank Group report also noted that there were community issues around access to water at the Debswana Orapa mine in the past. The mining company in the area, Debswana Mining Company addressed the issue through construction of sophisticated recycling facilities and use of storm water as alternatives to groundwater use.

At the same time, some companies, operating in the Kalahari area have provided desalination plants for community access to water. Further the report from World Bank Group identify that the government has confirmed that the mining sector is largely compliant with water management regulations due to high profile nature of this resource.

Hence tribal land is generally available for allocation by Land Boards, but good-quality land is scarce and efforts to systematically record land information have been slow. Accordingly, records of landholdings are limited. A lease market for allocated tribal land is developing. Land plots in urban centers (both private and state land) are recorded in the State Land Integrated Management System. The plots are increasingly expensive, and state land allocations include requirements for development. If residents are unable to develop allocated plots, the state repossesses them. In 2001, the state had repossessed roughly 13% of the middle and upper income area plots allocated, and 55% of plots allocated to low-income residents.

According to the World Bank Group report, Botswana’s land management system includes rurally based Land Boards and Tribunals set out requirements for compensation and resettlement when land for mining development is required.

World Bank Group statement further stated that some companies noted that they voluntarily pay higher rates for land compensation that are stipulated by the Land Board, mostly to achieve a “social license” to mine especially in ecologically sensitive areas (around the Okavango Delta or in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve). Companies have also called for better guidelines around resettlement and compensation for displaced people.

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