Mupane fined for illegal mining of dumps after admission by miner
Mupane Gold Mining Company has found itself on the wrong side of the Department of Mines, after illegally mining gold ore from ore dumps in Matsiloje village that have been building up since the 1800s during the gold rush.
Gold was discovered along the Tati River in around 1867 and soon the area was full of prospectors staking their claims. By the 1940's, however, the gold mining had slowed, and there are only a few of the larger mines still operating today. Mupane Gold is one of the remaining large gold miners in the area.
In a letter dated 3 March, 2015, Minister Mokaila wrote to Mupane Gold Mining company, fining the company an amount of P50,000, for mining outside its licensed mining area.
A savingram addressed to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, issued by the Director of Mines in the same Ministry, dated 19th February 2015, relates how the gold miner was caught out, mining the ancient dumps and tailings for more mineral content, which fall outside of its licensed mining area.
On the 1st September, 2014, officers of the Department of Mines met company Director, Charles Byron, after reports of illegal mining of the dumps at Matsiloje, in the north eastern region of Botswana, 30 kilometres from the City of Francistown.
“Mr Byron admitted that it was Mupane Gold Mining which was mining the dumps at Matsiloje for treatment of material to recover gold,” reads the savingram.
The company is said to have mined out 19,969 tonnes (10,939 cubic metres) of material at two dumps in Matsiloje village, one being a tailings dump and the other being a waste rock dump.
“The company had not sought nor acquired any mining rights from the minister of Minerals, Energy and Water resources before mining the dumps,” states the savingram.
It is further said that, while the company has initially claimed that the material was removed to rehabilitate the areas, “it appears the main motive for the removal of the dumps was recovery of gold for profit.”
The company failed to show the shafts that were rehabilitated or the safety of the grounds of the supposedly rehabilitated area.
While the company had initially claimed that Matsiloje village kgosi (chief) had given them permission to mine the dumps, it turned out that the kgosi was in actual fact one of those who had reported the mining activity to the Department of Mines, soon after the mining started.
This week, the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, conduct Value For Money assessments of projects under the Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water Resources.
“With new and better technologies, miners are able to extract even more mineral content from the ore they had initially dumped; this is billion dollar business and companies all over, even in South Africa are doing it,” said PAC member, Samson Guma Moyo.
The company executives of Mupane Gold Mining could not be reached as they were said to be all on leave, at the time of going to press.
Pressed for answers on the relatively lenient fines given for mining companies, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water Resources, Kgomotso said as a Ministry, they would push for amendments to the Mining Act that would allow the authorities to confiscate all the company assets that were used in the illegal acts.
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The recent study on youth entrepreneurship in Botswana has identified difficult access to funding, land, machinery, lack of entrepreneurial mindset and proper training as serious challenges that continue to hamper youth entrepreneurship development in this country.
The study conducted by Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) in collaboration with University of Botswana has confirmed that despite the government and private sector multi-billion pula entrepreneurship development initiatives, many young people in Botswana continue to fail to grow their businesses into sustainable and successful companies that can help reduce unemployment.
University of Botswana researchers Gaofetege Ganamotse and Rudolph Boy who compiled findings in the 2022 study report for Botswana stated that as part of the study interviews were conducted with successful youth entrepreneurs to understand their critical success factors.
According to the researchers other participants were community leaders, business mentors, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture, financial institutions, higher education institutions, non-governmental institutions, policymakers, private organizations, and support structures such as legal and technical experts and accountants who were interviewed to understand how they facilitate successful youth entrepreneurship.
The researchers said they found that although Botswana government is perceived as the most supportive to businesses when compared to other governments in sub-Saharan Africa, youth entrepreneurs still face challenges when accessing government funding. “Several finance-related challenges were identified by youth entrepreneurs. Some respondents lamented the lack of access to start-up finance, whereas others mentioned lack of access to infrastructure.”
The researchers stated that in Botswana entrepreneurship is not yet perceived as a field or career of choice by many youth “Participants in the study emphasized that the many youth are more of necessity entrepreneurs, seeing business venturing as a “fall back. Other facilitators mentioned that some youth do not display creativity, mind-blowing innovative solutions, and business management skills. Some youth entrepreneurs like to take shortcuts like selling sweets or muffins.”
According to the researchers, some of the youth do not display perseverance when they are faced with adversity in business. “Young people lack of an entrepreneurial mindset is a common challenge among youth in business. Some have a mindset focused on free services, handouts, and rapid gains. They want overnight success. As such, they give up easily when faced with challenges. On the other hand, some participants argue that they may opt for quick wins because they do not have access to any land, machinery, offices, and vehicles.”
The researchers stated that most youth involved in business ventures do not have the necessary training or skills to maintain a business. “Poor financial management has also been cited as one of the challenges for youth entrepreneurs, such as using profit for personal reasons rather than investing in the business. Also some are not being able to separate their livelihood from their businesses.
Lastly, youth entrepreneurs reported a lack of experience as one of the challenges. For example, the experience of running a business with projections, sticking to the projections, having an accounting system, maintaining a clean and clear billing system, and sound administration system.”
According to the researchers, the participants in the study emphasized that there is fragmentation within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, whereby there is replication of business activities without any differentiation. “There is no integration of the ecosystem players. As such, they end up with duplicate programs targeting the same objectives. The financial sector recommended that there is a need for an intermediary body that will bring all the ecosystem actors together and serve as a “one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs and build mentorship programs that accommodate the business lifecycle from inception to growth.”
Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) is said to have recorded an operating surplus of P61 Million, an improvement compared to the previous year. The housing, office and other building needs giant met with stakeholders recently to share how the business has been.
The P61 million is a significant increase against the P6 million operating loss realized in the prior year. Profit before income tax also increased significantly from P2 million in the prior year to P72 million which resulted in an overall increase in surplus after tax from P1 million prior year to P64 million for the year under review.
Chief of Finance Officer, Diratsagae Kgamanyane disclosed; “This growth in surplus was driven mainly by rental revenue that increased by 15% from P209 million to P240 million and reduction in expenditure from P272 million to P214 million on the back of cost containment.” He further stated that sales of high margin investment properties also contributed significantly to the growth in surplus as well as impairment reversals on receivables amounting to P25 million.
It is said that the Corporation recorded a total revenue of P702 million, an 8% decrease when compared to the P760 million recorded in the prior year. “Sales revenue which is one of the major revenue streams returned impressive margins, contributing to the overall growth in the gross margin,” added Kgamanyane.
He further stated professional fees revenue line declined significantly by 64% to P5 million from P14 million in the prior year which attributed to suspension of planned projects by their clients due to Covid-19 pandemic. “Facilities Management revenue decreased by P 24 million from P69 million recorded in prior year to P45 million due to reduction in projects,” Kgamanyane said.
The Corporation’s strength is on its investment properties portfolio that stood at P1.4 billion at the end of the reporting period. “The Corporation continues its strategy to diversify revenue streams despite both facilities management income and professional fees being challenged by the prevailing economic conditions that have seen its major clients curtailing spending,” added the CEO.
On the one hand, the Corporation’s Strategic Performance which intended to build 12 300 houses by 2023 has so far managed to build 4 830 houses under their SHHA funding scheme, 1 240 houses for commercial or external use which includes use by government and 1 970 houses to rent to individuals.
BHC Acting CEO Pascaline Sefawe noted that; BHC’s planned projects are said to include building 336 flat units in Gaborone Block 7 at approximately P224 million, 100 units in Maun at approximately P78 million, 13 units in Phakalane at approximately P26 million, 212 units in Kazungula at approximately P160 million, 96 units at approximately P42 million in Francistown and 84 units at approximately P61 million in Letlhakane. Emphasing; “People tend to accuse us of only building houses in Gaborone, so here we are, including other areas in our planned projects.”