The Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM) has been running for over fifteen years through the various mining houses namely Debswana, BCL, BotAsh,Kgale Quarries and some exploration companies. It is a private sector body that is non-profit making with the running of the organisation drawn from among the industry leaders. The advent of increased mining activity in the country brought about more mining companies increasing the effectiveness of the BCM as an organisation. However the issues discussed were becoming numerous and varied to be handled by the system then hence the desire to set up the Botswana Chamber of Mines secretariat in Gaborone. The office was officially opened by the Minister of Minerals Energy and Water Resources on 23rd November 2010.
The purpose of the Botswana Chamber of Mines is to serve the interest of the Mining companies and to influence policy decisions and strategic intents within the government, non-governmental organisations and related bodies.
Our objective at the Chamber aims to promote and protect the interests and image of the mining industry. This is crucial in a world that portrays mining activities to be naturally destructive and in some cases undesirable. It is important to build up an image that counteracts these negative impressions. In building up this image, the Chamber cannot do it alone; it needs the support of the country’s legislators and other stakeholders. The Chamber aims to lobby the government for provision of legislation that is pro-mining activities, to promote this industry and enhance the country’s economic development.
Mining and indeed any other industry is dependent upon its human resources for successful achievement of its strategies. The Chamber aims to develop this human resource for the benefit of the industry and the country at large. In its strategy the Chamber is aligned to the Government processes of human resources development and participates significantly in most forums that advocate for this sector development.
Mining supplies generally are specialised cases that require careful consideration as the costs of some of these items are not necessarily low. In the procurement processes, the industry normally gives preference to local suppliers where this is practical. This is to allow the local industry to grow through training of its employees. It also assumes that by so doing the citizens are afforded the opportunity to grow against the backdrop of competition from outside the country.
There are currently eight companies that are affiliated to the Botswana Chamber of Mines who are carrying out exploration activities within the country. They are involved with the Chamber in all respects and are privy to all decision making processes and activities of the Chamber. The involvement is to assist them on issues that relate to Safety, Health and Environment together with other matters that they may benefit from the producing companies. The other issues pertain to liaison with the government departments and other related organizations.
Skilled manpower is in short supply within the country and this is more pronounced in the mining industry where the dependence on expatriate skills is heavy. Training of local skills from different perspective is ongoing in a country where there are graduates trained and qualified in inappropriate skills. The Botswana Chamber of Mines has identified skills deficiencies in the industry and has put strategies in place in order to address these issues fully. The Chamber is also addressing safety health and environment issues within the industry. Great strides have been made in these areas to ensure the industry operates sustainably.
After operating without an office for more than ten years, Botswana Chamber of Mines is ready to turn a new leaf in the industry. Koobonye Ramokopelwa talked to the chamber’s founding Chief Executive Officer Charles Siwawa on issues that affect the industry and beyond.
The chamber was established more than twenty years ago by a group of mines that wanted to have a concerted voice when discussing issues that affect the mining industry with stakeholders such as government and other interested parties. We are also determined to influence policy that would ensure sustainability and prosperity of the industry. We are a non- governmental organisation, which depends on funding from members. We have ten members that include Botash, Debswana, Tati Nickel and BCL among others.
The mining sector business development project is solely made to benefit Batswana and locally based companies to acquire maximum value from the industry. The Chamber has realised that millions of Pula are currently spent on buying equipment and other mining accessories from international companies outside the country. We see this as a lost opportunity for the country hence we are busy facilitating the establishment of locally based companies that could supply accessories such as conveyer belts, large tyres (for big trucks), spare parts and treatment plant reagents for instance Over the years, local companies have been losing out on this economy because a lot of people were not sure they would get the necessary support from the industry. Once the strategy is aligned (before end of the year) we would make it a point that local mining companies support it to ensure its long term survival.
Our mines currently use a lot of steel that is later disposed as scrap. The majority of this scrap metal is sent to other countries for processing resulting in creation of employment outside the country. As the Chamber of Mines we feel the country can benefit from this scrap metal as a business. We want to help local investors come up with a foundry that would be used to cast steel and make new products from the so-called scrap. In that way, citizens would be able to benefit from the down line businesses coming from the mining industry. We appreciate and understand that most citizens would not have the needed skills and expertise, but they can partner with other expert skills to form joint ventures.