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By: Diamond World News Service
Aug 13 2014 6:56PM
Reference: 9428  


Dev Shetty, CFO, Gemfields PLC.
We have undertaken a big programme of mine exploration, wherein, we have drilled about 30,000 meters of core drilling. Due to this we have been able to delineate about four large ore bodies which have a potential to become independent open pit or underground mines in themselves. Therefore, due to the company’s professionalism, the future of the workers is secured for not less than 50 years as of today and this is a continuous program taken up by the company under its R&D project.

o We have an ongoing programme of continuous rehabilitation which involves in-pit dumping, and this helps to keep the size of the main operational pit to a minimum by mining using a strip-and-fill method, which means that as we strip the high-wall, we fill the exhausted footwall with the waste rock from the high wall. The continuous rehabilitation also extends to dump rehabilitation which sees us dump top soil on disused dumpsites, flatten it and plant indigenous trees on it. To support this, a nursery has been developed on-site where saplings are grown.

o The waste water resulting from dewatering of the pits is pumped to a settlement pond from which the overflow, free of any suspended solids, is discharged to the environment. An environmental license for this is awarded by the Government of Zambia.

o Dust generation is kept to a minimum by use of water bowers which uses water discharged from the pit – helping the environment two ways – 1. No additional water is consumed from a river for dust suppression. 2. Water discharge to outside environment is kept to the bare minimum by using the pit water. Dust analysis is conducted frequently by an independent consultant, recognised by the Government Regulatory Body.

o The treatment process employed at the Washing Plant is a simple washing and picking process. No chemicals are added. The water required for the washing plant is taken from a pond, created by the company, and the same is re-cycled in the plant. Any additional water required only is drawn from the pond created by the company, thereby conserving natural and ground water.

o We provide our employees with all the necessary tools to protect them from the harm that may result from mining operations along with awareness training programs. Due to these measures and an effective safety management system, our Kagem mine site in Zambia has achieved over 3.1 million “reportable” injury free man shifts. In the month of April 2014, the Mine Safety Department of the Government Republic of Zambia awarded a certificate of achievement.

o We have medical teams with clinics on site, as well as nearby and proper emergency preparedness to handle cases. This includes fully functional ambulances with drivers on standby at all times. At least one of every 50 employees across various workplaces is first aid trained.

o Currently, the company is engaged in construction of nurses’ quarters & wards at a Health Centre within the community. This construction will consist of two nurses’ quarters with toilets and borehole, over-head tank and fencing. This will also include a 4-Ward mini-Hospital. The company is strongly partnering with CHAMP to promote HIV/AIDs awareness not only in the company employees but also in the neighboring villages.

The agriculture sector is where Gemfields are assisting the communities with income generating activities to improve their livelihoods. The cooperatives grow vegetable crops which are sold to the company at market prices. The company gives seed, fertilizers, etc. as a loan, and when the cooperatives have their produce available, they sell it to the company and the loan is also recovered.

We have supported and handed over a refurbished and upgraded Primary school and are now focused on supporting the construction of a Secondary school in the same area.

Conclusion: “Economic growth and environmental protection are not at odds. They're opposite sides of the same coin if you're looking at longer-term prosperity,” – a famous quote by Henry Paulson perfectly fits in here. Most of the natural resource mining companies have realised the importance of sustainable mining with adhering to their responsibilities towards environment and people equally.

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