Medie — Residents of Medie in the Kweneng District have been assured of the creation of more job opportunities once Minergy Coal Mine starts production in the village.
The assurance was made by the mine's safety and health environmental officer Mr Hebert Kebafetotse at a recent kgotla meeting.
"With the arrival of the Modula Plant earmarked for the particular project, we are hoping to increase numbers to 200 as far as recruitment is concerned," said Mr Kebafetotse.
He said a South African company was assembling the plant before it could be brought to Botswana for re-assembling to allow production.
Mr Kebafetotse expressed optimism that the plant would be delivered in the next two weeks, which would be followed by commissioning.
The officer's assurance comes in the wake of concerns by residents about what they termed unfair recruitment practices and bias on the part of mine officials.
Residents complained that some individuals were made to benefit at the expense of others.
Mr Kebafetotse explained that recruitment was currently done as and when the need arose with hope of absorbing a good number once the plant was ready for processing and washing of coal.
He was hopeful that with commencement of production, recruitment would improve stating that there was currently little activity at the mine.
Residents also wanted the mining company to reaffirm its promises to the community including regular maintenance of the internal road to reduce dust.
Mr Kebafetotse said the initial promise on the electrification of tribal administration offices, clinic and primary school as well as Internet connectivity in the three institutions still stood.
Residents, among them Village Development Committee secretary, Ms Papisetso Rabatsimako, accused mine officials of constantly failing to fulfill promises.
Ms Rabatsimako's said the mine officials were now neglecting residents when it was them who made the acquisition of the mining license possible.
Mr Morolong Legobo challenged the mine to consider community projects that would be a direct benefit of the mining operation.
The project, he said, would play a significant role in empowering a segment of the Medie community and eventually help deliver some from abject poverty.
Mr Shima Lebakeng raised concern over limited grazing land in the area after part of it was forfeited to make way for the mine.
However, Mr Kebafetotse explained that although land for mining related activities was over 67 square kilometers, the mine was currently operating within only five square kilometers.
The remaining large portion has been left for the farming community for purposes of grazing.
"We are however planning to have similar structures in some areas within the region that will help us identify available skills in the region to allow equal opportunities," said Mr Kebafetotse.
Minergy Coal Mine supplies coal to industrial customers and power utilities across southern Africa.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>