The health of miners in Southern Africa, their families, and their wider communities could be improved through smart investments in initiatives aimed at tackling occupational diseases, such as TB and Silicosis, members of groups attending a two-day meeting underway in South Africa have stated.
Under the theme, Smart Investments in Health: Mining as a Catalyst for Building Sustainable Communities, associations of miners and ex-miners, as well as members of the private sector, governments and their development partners, and civil society are identifying priority interventions for further investment in occupational and public healthcare.
The meeting is taking place amid a growing mining industry, with more countries discovering minerals. Studies in ten countries in the Southern African Development Community show, however, that most have not yet set up strong regulations and institutions to address the effects of mining on health in and around the mines. Mine workers, especially those in artisanal and small-scale mines, have limited access to occupational health services. And the communities living around mines are often also exposed to the same public and environmental health risks, such as TB and HIV infection, air and water pollution.
“Addressing a complex, 150 year-old, TB problem in mines requires a coordinated multi-sectoral and multi-country approach, and partnerships,” said Paul Noumba Um, World Bank Country Director for South Africa. “Various regional initiatives have been undertaken to fight this scourge in Southern Africa. Today, we are calling on partners to do more”. In the last five years, a significant amount of knowledge has been generated to understand the extent of this problem and enable countries to identify solutions. Countries have started initiatives to prevent TB infection, identify TB cases, and provide TB treatment services and occupational health services to current and ex-mineworkers.
This is a critical initiative in a region where mineworkers have higher TB prevalence compared to general population. An estimated 500,000 mineworkers work in South Africa. Statistics suggest 2,500–3,000 diagnosed TB cases per 100,000 mineworkers in the gold mines, ten times the World Health Organization’s emergency threshold (of 250/100,000 people). An estimated 70% of occupational TB cases go undetected. ”We are beginning to see concrete action for addressing TB in the mining affected populations in the region. This is the start of a paradigm shift, but must be sustained and scaled-up for impact,” said, Suvanand Sahu, Deputy Executive Deputy Director of the Stop TB Partnership Secretariat.
Some of the models for investing in occupational and public health being considered are community development trusts, social labor plans, and corporate social responsibility. “The implementation of these programs require considerable resources and mobilizing investment from various partners, including the private sector,” said Donald Denis Tobaiwa, Chair of the Regional Coordinating Mechanism of Southern Africa.
This meeting is building on previous initiatives to improve mining policy and legislation. “We see a role for the private sector in providing financial resources to scale-up existing initiatives, such as the expansion of occupational TB services to key affected populations,” said Mark Edington, Head of Grant Management Division for the Global Fund. “The experience of the Global Fund has shown successful outcomes when partnering with the private sector to fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria in other regions.”
This week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka approached parliament seeking lawmakers approval of Government’s intention to increase bond program ceiling from the current P15 Billion to P30 billion.
“I stand to request this honorable house to authorize increase in bond issuance program from the current P15 billion to P30 billion,” Dr Matsheka said. He explained that due to the halt in economic growth occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic government had to revisit options for funding the national budget, particularly for the second half of the National Development Plan (NDP) 11.
Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) has this week revealed a gloomy picture of diamond mining newcomer, Lucara, with its stock devaluated and its entire business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A BSE survey for a period between 1st January to 31st August 2020 — recording the second half of the year, the third quarter of the year and five months of coronavirus in Botswana — shows that the Domestic Company Index (DCI) depreciated by 5.9 percent.
Botswana Diamond PLC, a diamond exploration company trading on both London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) on Monday unlocked value from its shares to raise capital for its ongoing exploration works in Botswana and South Africa.
A statement from the company this week reveals that the placing was with existing and new investors to raise £300,000 via the issue of 50,000,000 new ordinary shares at a placing price of 0.6p per Placing Share.
Each Placing Share, according to Botswana Diamond Executives has one warrant attached with the right to subscribe for one new ordinary share at 0.6p per new ordinary share for a period of two years from, 7th September 2020, being the date of the Placing Warrants issue.
In a statement Chairman of Botswana Diamonds, John Teeling explained that the funds raised will be used to fund ongoing exploration activities during the current year in Botswana and South Africa, and to provide additional working capital for the Company.
The company is currently drilling kimberlite M8 on the Marsfontein licence in South Africa and has generated further kimberlite targets which will be drilled on the adjacent Thorny River concession.
In Botswana, the funds will be focused on commercializing the KX36 project following the recent acquisition of Sekaka Diamonds from Petra Diamonds. This will include finalizing a work programme to upgrade the grades and diamond value of the kimberlite pipe as well as investigating innovative mining options.
Drilling is planned for the adjacent Sunland Minerals property and following further assessment of the comprehensive Sekaka database more drilling targets are likely. “This is a very active and exciting time for Botswana Diamonds. We are drilling the very promising M8 kimberlite at Marsfontein and further drilling is likely on targets identified on the adjacent Thorny River ground,” he said.
The company Board Chair further noted, “We have a number of active projects. The recently acquired KX36 diamond resource in the Kalahari offers great potential. While awaiting final approvals from the Botswana authorities some of the funds raised will be used to detail the works we will do to refine grade, size distribution and value per carat.”
In addition BOD said the Placing Shares will rank pari passu with the Company’s existing ordinary shares. Application will be made for the Placing Shares to be admitted to trading on AIM and it is expected that such admission will become effective on or around 23 September 2020.
Last month Botswana Diamond announced that it has entered into agreement with global miner Petra Diamonds to acquire the latter’s exploration assets in Botswana. Key to these assets, housed under Sekaka Diamonds, 100 % subsidiary of Petra is the KX36 Diamond discovery, a high grade ore Kimberlite pipe located in the CKGR, considered Botswana’s next diamond glory after the magnificent Orapa and prolific Jwaneng Mines.
The acquisition entailed two adjacent Prospecting Licences and a diamond processing plant. Sekaka has been Petra’s exploration vehicle in Botswana for year and holds three Prospecting Licenses in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Kalahari) PL169/2019, PL058/2007 and PL224/2007, which includes the high grade KX36 kimberlite pipe.