Gold long gone but the dust remains

Kabelo Dipholo
CREATING DUST: Heavy machinery on site

Francistown West Councillor, Gopolang Almando, has called on Mupane Mine and the Department of Mines to come to the aid of his constituents whose health, he believes, is being compromised.

The youthful Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) politician is worried by the recent activity at the old Monarch Gold Mine (cyanide).

In a series of questions posed in council, Almando asked the Department of Mines to reveal the name of the company doing works at the Area 2 mine and detail the nature of the work being carried out there.

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The Councillor also wanted the department to clarify what danger the dust that rises from the mine daily poses to Area 2 residents. He also demanded to know if any medical tests would be conducted on residents to check for lung diseases and other ailments when the company finally completes the project.

In an interview with The Voice, Almando revealed his constituents complained about the choking dust ever since the arrival of heavy plant machinery in the area back in May 2018.

“They told me their drinking water is contaminated daily, while their houses are always dusty. One of the residents claimed all her chickens died after inhaling a choking cloud of dust,” he said.

DEMANDING ANSWERS: Councillor Almando

However, responding to Almando’s queries at the ongoing Full Council session, the Department of Mines said they have not received any reports or complaints from residents emanating from the project.

It was further revealed that Mupane Gold Mining (Pty) Ltd was granted a mining licence to mine the dumps at Monarch Area 2. The work entails preparing the ground, removal of old mine taillings, haulage from Monarch to Mupane Gold Mine processing plant and ultimately rehabilitating the site.

The work is envisaged to take a maximum of four years and is expected to continue until the middle of 2022.

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According to the Department of Mines, prior to being granted a mining licence, Mupane Gold Mine had drawn an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) which detailed all the dangers and mitigation measures thereof.

“As a mitigation measure for dust, in particular, the mine had proposed to continuously water down the areas of dust emissions in order to suppress it,” was the department’s response to one of Almando’s questions.

As for whether any medical tests would be conducted on residents upon completion of the project, the department said it anticipates that a project of this limited magnitude and the availed mitigating measures will deter any catastrophic environmental and health concerns.

“In short, nothing is really being done to help affected Area 2 residents!” said a dejected Almando in resignation.

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