It was a little over seven years ago, when Lucara Botswana began its mining operations in Boteti at Karowe Mine. Seven years on, the Lucara Botswana mine has since gone full circle and established itself as a bespoke miner well known for the world’s finest diamonds. This, a feat that we are very proud to have earned through our dedication to some of the finest processing technology in the world; through some of the most dedicated, highly trained eyes of our diamond sorters, and through our dedication to adherence to safe mining policies and practices.
This dedication continues to earn Lucara Botswana the desirable tag of an incident free mine; making it one of the safest in the world. We have recently celebrated in May 2019 a 2-year LTI free operation and still counting. An amazing milestone achieved by an exceptional team. As a prelude to our seventh birthday in April, we are also gathered here to celebrate another distinctive feature of Lucara Botswana, which is our heart, and soul. Like our unique diamonds, Lucara Botswana's social responsibility initiatives or impact investing is world class and unique. Like diamonds are forever we want to ensure that our communities are forever sustainable. We want to enable sustainability beyond our life of mine.
At Lucara Botswana, we see the Boteti communities as special as the diamonds we recover from their land, hence through our resilient social impact program, we thrive to unearth community projects of various kinds, we will nurture it, polish it, and watch it sparkle with our support, to give the same amount of joy, excitement, and fulfillment to us, like the fulfillment we found after the recovery of the Lesedi La Rona Diamond or the distinctive recovery of 1,758 carat diamond recently recovered in April.
At Lucara Botswana, contributions to the development of our host community go beyond creation of jobs, generating taxes and payment of royalties. We continue to support young entrepreneurs, strengthen important community infrastructure, through initiatives such as the Letlhakane Abattoir and the Mokubilo Cooperative Society Farm.
Lucara Botswana designs and manages community investments across four pillars: resource governance, education/skills training, local procurement and economic diversification. We continue to support our flagship community investment projects, comprising the abattoir in Letlhakane and the Karowe Village Initiatives (KVI).
Our single largest investment in recent years involved the redevelopment of the publicly owned slaughterhouse to an abattoir. The abattoir is an important link in the value chain of cattle farming, which contributes significantly to local livelihoods. The redevelopment of the slaughterhouse into an abattoir included an entirely new structure and compound. This was constructed and achieved through partnership with the Central District Council, which is the facility owner/operator.
The abattoir employs 17 workers and generated approximately P1 million in revenues from September 2017 to December 2018, nearly tripling its annual revenues. We continue to support our partner, focusing on strengthening institutional and management capacity of the abattoir. This includes exploring innovative public-private partnership models for professional abattoir management to ensure sustainable operations and long-term benefits for the community. We are also working with LEA (Local Enterprise Authority) to assist with the spin off industries from the abattoir to empower local entrepreneurs in the area.
The KEEF (Karowe Emerging Entrepreneurs Fund) program provided loans and advisory support to a series of micro-entrepreneurs. This facility was designed to provide loans and advisory support to a successive cohort of micro-entrepreneurs. The successful applicants ranged from a goat farmer to a brick manufacturer. However, insufficient loan repayments highlighted a need to re-adjust the underlying business model of KEEF, while continuing to support its beneficiaries. To achieve this, we started our collaboration with the new Local Enterprise Authority (LEA). The KEEF beneficiaries have now transitioned to and are being supported by LEA to help them become more resilient and viable businesses.
The most recent initiative at Lucara Botswana is the Karowe Village Initiatives (KVI)
KVI comprised the development of three sustainable community-owned initiatives: a horticulture project in Mokubilo; a commercial goat farm in Khwee; and a possible poultry farm In Mmadikola to be confirmed by a feasibility study currently being done.
In 2018, we launched the Mokubilo Co-operative Society Farm under the KVI umbrella. The project was commissioned in October 2018 with its first harvest in April 2018. A very successful harvest indicated a large demand with a limited supply. This has warranted phase 2 of the project in 2020.
We are also very passionate about quality education SDG 4. We have contributed close to P800 00 in this area through the refurbishments at the Pudulogong School of the blind, partnering with Spelling Bee Botswana to facilitate the regional spelling bee for the visually impaired and hearing impaired. Our belief is that if we boost the confidence level of the students in this sphere we will create a platform for them to conquer the world. We therefore envisage more work with both entities in collaboration with our partners & suppliers.
Close to our hearts also is Gender Equality. We are collaborating with many entities to drive this. One of our key contributions this year was to the Nna Ke Naledi workshops which are key to this initiative. As a company we are gender diverse. This you will see through the presenters today. Seeing is believing good people!!! One of our colleagues mentioned that he doesn’t need to go to a women in mining conference he just needs to go to work and he sees it in action!!!
We are collaborating with the Debswana OLD operations on a project to share our excess water (from pit dewatering) with them, thereby allowing them to reduce their direct groundwater abstractions. This will also enable them to pump their excess drinkable water supply to Letlhakane to alleviate the water shortage problem currently being experienced in the area.
Furthermore, we continue to pursue an opportunity to develop a school and sports complex in 2020. We will also start looking at commissioning the other KVI projects in 2020. We will also be looking at ways to impact invest in conservation and cultural projects in the area in 2020.
We shall remain forever thankful to the community in the Boteti area for their diamond fertile soils. Our appreciation to them will never be enough, hence our continuing social responsibility initiatives among these lovely people.
We will therefore forever carry with us forward, the people of this beloved country because they are proud of the diamonds we mine. Shown through the participation in large numbers in the naming rituals and named the Lesedi la Rona and today we will get the reveal of the new name for the 1 758 carat stone. Thank you Botswana re le bogile!
*Naseem Lahri – the Managing Director of Lucara Botswana – welcoming guests at the occasion of the naming of the 1758 carat diamond that was discovered at Karowe mine in April.