Govt to empower citizens in mining sector

Published: 28/06/2016

Botswana Geo-Science Institute director, Koketso Mojaboswa says the minerals draft policy will give more rights to locals as against foreigners.

 Addressing a full Central District Council (CDC) meeting last Wednesday, Mojaboswa stated that the mining industry is currently dominated by foreigners rather than locals but added that the draft policy that is currently at consultation stage will change the status quo. He said it should be a leading job creation industry since it is very lucrative as compared to other industries in the local economy.

“But as it stands, the industry lacks local expertise henceforth expatriates dominate the industry, but with the draft policy our main aim is to change that by instilling necessary skills among Batswana to become miners of their own minerals in this country,” he said.  He added that the purpose of the consultation was to take ideas from the community and include them in the policy that was drafted in 2011.

He also noted that they will look to empower women who are still reluctant to venture into mining.

“With the new policy, one major beneficiations that we have made deliberately is that industrial mining will be 100% owned by locals and among them we will want to see a good number of women,” he added.

Principal Mineral Officer at the Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR), Gaone Molefhe said the policy was made to give Batswana more opportunities of being miners.

He said as it stands there are few Batswana in the mining business but rather concentrated more on trading as well as cutting and polishing diamonds while they leave extraction of minerals, which has higher returns, to foreigners.

“Mining gives you profit margins of 50% while trading, which is most preferred by citizens, gives you only five percent after you have paid all the costs. As for the diamond cutting and polishing, the profit margins can be as low as two percent. Therefore, we encourage citizens to be miners which will give them more profit, creating a pool of jobs as well as boosting the economy of our country,” he said.

For their part, civic leaders raised concerns about the multiple effects by mines on the environment

Moreomaoto ward councillor, Thomas Kgethenyane said where there are mines, agriculture is adversely affected due to pollution. He noted that foreign miners often come and pollute the environment. He said after they had dug holes they never cover them, something which compromises the safety of people more especially children.

“In the draft policy the law must be strengthened so that those who do such deeds be held accountable and punished. Furthermore mining should co-exist with other sectors because they are important as well,” he said.

Councillor for Kedia, Dikgang Orapeleng of emphasised more on local participation and procurement.

Orapeleng said all companies that start mining in any place have to adhere to their corporate social responsibility by hiring residents of such places.

“Where there is mining lives of the residents need to transform as well. They have to be given priority over any other persons more especially expatriates. Furthermore, those companies should buy equipment or any other material needed locally as a way of empowering the citizens,” he said.