Africa-Press – Botswana. Meropa Mining Resources, a 100% citizen-owned company has been appointed as Medie Coal Mine operators by Minergy Mining after parting ways with their former contractor. When giving an update at the ongoing Kweneng District Council meeting on Thursday, Mr Victor Senome, the Safety, Health and Environment Manager of Minergy Mining said the mine has not been in operation since last year but they have since resumed operations.

Mr Senome said the Medie mine plays a critical role in the local economy of the village and more extensively to the national economy as the coal is sold to the cement companies in South Africa and other countries via Windhoek, Namibia.

He said employment creation remains integral for any business operation and 117 Batswana have been engaged.

He said the operation of the mine, especially an open cast mine like at Medie, always comes with challenges that they were prepared to deal with and address to protect the environment they operate in.

He said there would be an upgrade of the Medie-Lentsweletau road to Bitumen and the designs have been completed and approved by the Department of Roads while the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

Mr Senome said this was a joint project with government expected and would start this year to fund the project while Minergy will secure their portion funding. He said they were faced with challenges among them health issues caused by smoke from the burnt coal adding they did not have the requisite machinery to deal with the emissions.

Mr Senome said they faced theft of fuels from their trucks but have since moved to a safer area. He added that they continued to maintain Medie and Lentsweletau roads especially during rainfall. Apart from challenges, Mr Senome said the improvements made by the mine, which are dust suppressing spraying done after every two days, installing speed humps and maintenance of roads. Furthermore monitoring the sounds of blasting including the smoke from burning coal, bringing medical specialists to the clinic in Medie, controlling truck traffic from the mine and inspections have been undertaken every month.

The councillors had their concerns pertaining to the mine and the changes that have been made, which affected the people or villages they represented. Cllr Andrew Selwe of Magokotswane said roads in Medie had not been maintained as stated by Mr Senome. He wondered why that was the case.

Adding to Cllr Selwe’s sentiments, Nominated Cllr Joseph Kgarebe urged the mine to constantly update them and the residents about issues that might affect them as a community. Cllr Rogers Kgatitswe of Lentsweletau East asked if the foul smell experienced by the residents was not dangerous to their health. He further asked if the mine management had any plans to extend the village clinic since it was also catering for their employees, adding that an alternative parking area for trucks has to be sought as they make it difficult for other vehicles to access Lentsweletau kgotla. In response, the Director, Mr John Astrud, explained that dust suppression was only done in Medie due to the fact that it was too costly adding the village was the mostly affected.

Talking about the clinic, he said the mine management would consider building a bigger clinic but said it would depend on their budget since the mine was now back in operation.

Mr Astrud assured councilors that the burning of coal that causes smoke would be monitored and managed as operations have just began. Mr Senome explained that parked their trucks near the kgotla for security reasons as the area had security and lights but added they would attend with the issue soon.

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