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Kolo Mine, community smoke peace pipe

Bereng Mpaki

THE frosty relations between the Kolo Mine in the Mafeteng district and the host community appear to have thawed after the two parties recently collaborated in the re-burial of the human remains that were unearthed at the mining site.

The mine recently held a re-burial ceremony for the remains that were unearthed at the mine site which used to be a burial ground for the villagers of Ha Petlane before mining operations began.

The community and the mine have been on a collision course over broken promises by the mine operator, with villagers often accusing the mine of failing to install electricity, water supply and construction of access roads as part of their social contract.

Being uniquely located in the middle of a village, the mine has also been in trouble with villagers for damages to their houses caused by blasting at the mine site.

The villagers were also angered by the dust coming from the mine and the tempering of graves by digging on the burial grounds.

Kolo Mine is operated by Reskol was granted mining rights in 2011 which expire in 2021. The company succeeded Engel Diamonds. Reskol is a subsidiary of Batla Minerals, a French resource investment company.  Reskol own 90 percent shares of the mine with the remainder being held by government. Reskol obtained 10-year mining lease to operate Kolo Mine in 2011.

However, the mine’s collaboration with the locals in the recent re-burials signals an attempt by both sides to med fences.

The chairperson of a community liaising committee, ‘Mamahlape Hlapane said the harmonious manner in which the mine worked with the community in the re-burial has promising prospects for future engagements.

“May the good collaborative spirit shown by the mine and community not end here and continue in future,” Ms Hlapane said.

“We worked well with the mine operator in preparation for the re-burials with love and harmony. I wish the same spirit can continue when we address other issues other issues.”

Ms Hlapane said she had observed an “improved approach” by the mine towards community issues.

“What is encouraging is that they have become more open to engaging and discussing pertinent issues with us, which used to be virtually impossible in the past. I am hopeful that things will pan out well for us.”

Mosala Ramosala whose relative’s remains were moved to a new grave site said: “We are happy that there were no misunderstandings involved in the relocation of the remains”.

Another villager, Moshoeshoe ‘Moleli, said he was happy that his grandfather’s remains would be moved from the mining site.

“The fact that they are going to erect a plague bearing his name will be an assurance that, he along with others have moved to a new burial ground,” Mr ‘Moleli said.

Previously, the community was also angered by the manner in which the previous re-burial was conducted as their engagement in preparation of the reburial was “inadequate” and there was also no tombstone and plaque erected on their behalf.

“The people have been calling for erection of a plaque with names on the re-burial site of the remains, which will make sure that future generations will know who is buried in there,” said councilor Mopako Hlapane.

Joseph Mabote, who spoke on behalf of Kolo Mine, was equally grateful for the harmonious engagement of the community.

He also called on the villagers to maintain the peaceful approach for future engagements.

“We humbly appeal for the same spirit to continue going when we tackle other issues of common interest,” Mr Mabote said.

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