- Industry strives to reduce carbon footprint
- New BCL Mine owners want to leave the environment in a better state
- Debswana aims to become carbon-neutral by 2030
The mining industry convened in Gaborone this past week to discuss and present ways in which it could go green and save the environment.
The conference, dubbed The Green Seminar, was themed “Greening the Mines – Protecting the Environment” and was organised by Leru Energy, a 50/50 joint venture between the business wing of Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Badirakhumo (Pty) Ltd and Southern African Stones (Pty) Ltd (SAS). SAS is a 100 percent citizen owned company. For Premium Nickel Resources Botswana (PNRB) – a company which acquired certain assets of BCL Mine – the theme of the seminar was in line with the approach it is taking to redevelop the Selebi Mines in Selebi-Phikwe.
Following its acquisition of two former BCL assets in Selebi-Phikwe, PNRB devised a strategy named Tsholofelo to re-develop the assets. The project is aimed at establishing how much copper, nickel and cobalt are left underground. “BCL themselves were in the process of establishing the remaining resources as evidenced by the extensive drilling they did in the Selebi basin,” the CEO of PNRB, Montwedi Mphathi, told the seminar. Mphathi, who previously served as Managing Director of BCL, said it is only after determining the quantity of resources below the surface that PNRB will develop the “best mine possible”.
He explained that their re-development objective is to build the best mine that will outperform global Environmental, Social and Governance (ES&G) standards and remain profitable even in the face of low commodity prices. “Our re-development must minimise the impact on the environment by using less resources in comparison with the past operations,” he said. The company will therefore use less power and introduce green energy production and use fewer internal combustion engines in pursuit of reducing the carbon footprint.
“We will use less water and be more efficient in its use by recycling,” Mphathi said. “For Botswana, this is a very scarce resource that must be preserved now for future generations and protected against contamination.” As part of the redevelopment, PNRB aims to leave the environment in a better condition than it found it. The approach taken by PNRB to re-develop the mine will be a welcome development for people of Selebi-Phikwe as the mine was previously blamed for air, land and water pollution around the town.
A 2016 study by Moagi Letshwenyo of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Botswana that investigated environmental pollution due to mining activities at BCL Mine found that heavy metal and sulphur were deposited into the soil. High concentrations of copper and nickel were also found in soil and plants around the mine. Debswana Diamond Company also understands the effects of climate change and how green mining can have a positive effect on the environment.
“As Debswana, we understand that climate change is real, and as part of our approach to mitigate its impact, we have set a vision to become carbon-neutral by 2030,” Debswana Head of Safety and Sustainable Development, Tefo Molosiwa, said. The vision to become carbon-neutral focuses on four key areas – energy efficiency, decarbonising petrol and diesel, introduction of hydrogen to replace diesel, and focus on renewable energy such as solar and wind. “These are some of the things that we as Debswana and other entities are trying to do as part of our contribution, not at just reducing our carbon footprint but to mitigate the risks of climate change,” Molosiwa said.