Mineral processing equipment solutions provider Multotec aims to find a balance between initiatives that drive localisation and benefit communities in Botswana, and the advantages associated with international connections, following the relaunch of the fully fledged Botswana-registered and -rooted subsidiary of Multotec Group, Multotec Botswana.
Although Multotec has been active in Botswana over many years, the group only recently set up a fully fledged service centre in Letlhakane, Botswana, as part of the relaunch in March.
The Botswana mining industry, is, along with the global industry, undertaking plant upgrades to take advantage of the recovery of the mining sector.
The diamond business, for instance, has seen a slight recovery in the last year, Multotec CEO Thomas Holtz enthuses, with it being “not so long ago” that production was throttled owing to lower demand.
“The increase in operational tonnage always results in higher maintenance costs and, therefore, more of an emphasis being placed on operational efficiencies and uptime.”
“Multotec’s success in Botswana has been built on maintaining our close relationships with our customers,” Holtz tells Mining Weekly, adding that the company has used its “world-class, value-added product and services offering supplied at competitive prices” to ensure the profitability and sustainability of clients.
Headquartered in Letlhakane, Multotec Botswana also has offices on site at the Jwaneng, Orapa and Letlhakane diamond mines to manage and administer its maintenance contracts and on-site personnel.
Multotec Botswana has created employment for 148 locals and is dedicated to maintaining a stockholding that can effectively reduce lead times and ensure that customers do not have to wait for parts. Multotec Botswana also operates its own fleet of fit-for-purpose vehicles for deliveries, adding to its logistical flexibility.
“As our personnel are also based at customer sites daily, there is always a strong technical presence on the ground.
“While the metallurgists and plant experts in the Letlhakane office manage our maintenance contracts, they are, in turn, supported by product specialists at the Johannesburg head office, who visit the Botswana sites when required.”
Commitment to Advancement
In a significant development that boosts local content, Multotec has grown the capabilities of its Botswana office to include light fabrication at the request of customers, rather than relying on its South African office.
This service offering, Holtz adds, allows for wear-related and peripheral products, such as mill-feed chutes, discharge chutes and pipes, to be conveniently fabricated and lined with ceramics close to the customer during a scheduled plant maintenance shutdown, reducing the time and money involved in completing such a project.
Multotec’s ceramic linings “never come cheap”, but have the advantage of significantly reducing the total cost of maintaining and running the plant over its lifetime, as a ceramic-lined chute can last for about ten years, Holtz explains. Comparatively, a rudimentary rubber or specialist steel liner may only last “a few months or a couple of years”, requiring more frequent replacement and maintenance.
“We’re building an industrial ecosystem around us in Botswana, allowing for value-adding to the benefit of local communities,” he says, adding, however, that not all equipment is manufactured in Botswana, owing to the understandably less developed industrial infrastructure and access to specialist skills and suppliers.
By creating this ecosystem, he explains that Multotec subcontracts, trains and develops local employees to undertake more of the work for Botswana clients. This benefits the local economy, which is highly dependent on the mining sector.
“Our involvement in the Botswana mining industry and local communities is important to us, as we are a key player in Botswana,” Holtz says, adding that the country’s government is pushing the development of “citizen-owned companies” – equivalent to South Africa’s black economic-empowerment mandate.
According to Multotec, however, a citizen-owned company would not have an international footprint or be connected to a multinational company’s – such as Multotec’s – international footprint to access global knowledge and technological advancements.
“[Multotec’s approach means] the client gets the benefit of a globally competitive value-added proposition, which is important in this globalised world,” Holtz states.
Multotec Botswana’s commitment to the advancement of the country is evident in its community projects.
Education is one of its focus areas, and Multotec is engaging with nonprofit organisation Adopt-a-School Foundation to identify schools in the area that could be supported in years to come.
“The important thing is to evaluate whether funding is being provided for a purpose that is meaningful and makes an impact on the community,” Holtz states, adding that Botswana is being governed in a “forward thinking and progressive” manner.
“We see the country in a very positive light with regard to the level of engagement of all institutions – such as Botswana’s government and its Chamber of Mines – which are actively involved and proactive in converting the country’s resources into infrastructure, such as schooling and hospitals.”
He concludes that this relatively small, landlocked country is doing as much as it can to benefit its people.