Botswana mining industry adopts sustainability model

By Mpho Tebele

GABORONE- MINES in Botswana would be the first in Africa to adopt a Canadian model of sustainability that requires members to continuously assess their mining practices and report them to the community.

The Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative looks at six core areas – including greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity conservation and community outreach – that combine industry technical standards, such as those used in mine tailings management.

The Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM) announced this week that it will adopt the TSM initiative, a corporate social responsibility programme developed by the MAC to improve environmental and social practices in the mining industry.

BCM is an organisation that represents the interest of the mining industry in Botswana. Its membership is widespread to include mining as well as minerals exploration companies together with mining contracting and large suppliers.

It is the first time that TSM has been adopted by a mining association in Africa, and the third to do so outside of Canada.

The Finnish Mining Association, adopted TSM in November 2015 and the Cámara Argentina de Empresarios Mineros (CAEM), the Argentinean Chamber of Mining Entrepreneurs, adopted the initiative in October 2016.

MAC and its members launched TSM in 2004 and Implementation of the program is mandatory for all MAC members’ Canadian operations, but many voluntarily apply it to their international sites.

MAC freely shares TSM with other countries seeking tools to improve the environmental and social performance of their mining industries, including engagement with civil society and enhanced transparency and accountability.

Charles Siwawa, CEO of the Botswana Chamber of Mines, noted that the adoption of TSM will enable the industry to demonstrate adherence to sound and sustainable minerals development practices and strive towards continual improvement.

TSM requires mining companies to annually assess their facilities’ performance across six important areas, including tailings management, community outreach, safety and health, biodiversity conservation, crisis management, and energy use and greenhouse gas emissions management.

The results are freely available to the public and are externally-verified every three years to ensure what has been reported is accurate. While BCM will tailor its performance areas so that they reflect the unique aspects of its domestic mining sector, they will be at a similar level to those of Canada’s.

To ensure TSM reflects the expectations of civil society and industry stakeholders, it was designed and continues to be shaped by an independent, multi-interest advisory panel. As part of its implementation, BCM will implement a similar advisory body to provide this valuable oversight function.

Botswana Chamber of Mines members subscribe to the principles of responsible mining and extraction of minerals from the earth. The adoption of TSM will enable the industry to demonstrate adherence to sound and sustainable minerals development practices and strive towards continual improvement.

Pierre Gratton, President and CEO of MAC said with Botswana’s adoption of Towards Sustainable Mining, the programme is now in four countries on four continents, clearly establishing TSM as an emerging global standard.

“It is our privilege to share our tools and expertise in sustainable and responsible mining practices with a country that is making important strides in sustainable mining development,” he said.

Ambassador of Canada to Zimbabwe, Botswana and Angola, Kumar Gupta, said Canada is “very pleased that the Mining Association of Canada and the Botswana Chamber Mines are working together on the Towards Sustainable Mining initiative”.

According to Gupta, the initiative reflects Canada’s strong relationship with Botswana and his country’s commitment to support the sustainable development of Botswana’s mining sector.

February 2017
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