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Minister vows to address mining concerns

 

Bereng Mpaki

MINING Minister Keketso Sello has committed to work with mining companies to address concerns raised by unions over working conditions.

Mr Sello said this during a tour of Letšeng diamond mine in Mokhotlong district this past week in which he met the mine’s management.

Prior to visiting the mine, the minister had met Construction, Mining and Allied Workers Union (CAMAU) officials who articulated a host of challenges their members were encountering at the mines.

CAMAU is made up of workers from the three diamond mines Kao, Letšeng and Liqhobong.

The union accused the mines of failing to ensure that there was skills transfer to locals and not investing their profits in the country. British-based Gem Diamonds owns 70 percent of Letšeng Diamonds, the government of Lesotho owning the remaining 30 percent.

Addressing the media following his discussions with Letšeng management, Mr Sello said he raised the issues of concern and was hopeful they would be speedily addressed.

“From what we have discussed with the management of the mine, especially the human resources manager, labour issues are no small matter and should be addressed urgently,” he said.

“I am therefore expecting her and the rest of the management team to seriously resolve the issues that workers are not happy about.”

The minister, who was accompanied by a team of senior officials from the ministry, further indicated he was expecting a follow up meeting with the management to assess progress made.

“I am looking forward to sitting down with the management of Letšeng to deliberate on the progress made on the issues pretty soon.”

During the tour, Mr Sello inspected the two mining pits, treatment plants, waste disposal dams and the diamond recovery facility.

Last month, the minister also toured Liqhobong and Kao diamond mines to get more insight on how the industry operates.

“There are many issues that need to be seriously deliberated on between my office and the rest of the mining companies,” he said.

The police post near Letšeng, Mr Sello added, needed to be urgently renovated as it was in a bad shape.

For his part, Letšeng acting Chief Executive Officer Jeff Leaver said the management were happy to engage the minister on the issues of concern for the benefit off all stakeholders.

“Our discussions were very fruitful, very open and frank. You shared many of the challenges that you face in your seat of office, we shared many of the issues that we face here as the management of Letšeng,” Mr Leaver said.

“We can assure you of our full cooperation, and we were very encouraged to hear you reaching out to us saying we need to work on these issues together.

“If we are going to maximize the output of the mine, revenue and the economic contribution to the country, it is if we work together.

“If we fight or obstruct each other in any shape or form, that will destroy the mine’s value to the shareholders as well as the citizens of this country.”

Mr Leaver added that plans were already in motion to renovate the police post.

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