Ojikoto mine, owned by B2Gold, is a major contributor to the country’s economy. Not only that, but the company has one of the largest CSI budgets in Namibia, reinforcing its commitment to responsible mining and ensuring economic prosperity beyond the life of mine. Compiled by GERARD PETER.
April this year marked the 10th anniversary since B2Gold broke ground at Otjikoto. A mere 18 months later, the first gold was poured in what can only be described as an outstanding mining success story for Namibia.
This year, Otjikoto is expected to produce between 190 000 and 210 000 oz of gold. The mine is expected to process a total of 3.4 Mt of ore at an average grade of 1.87 g/t with a process gold recovery of 98%.
B2Gold is committed to developing resources in a way that creates socioeconomic development and shares economic benefits with affected stakeholders. In the eight-year period since commercial production was declared (from March 2015 to 31 December 2022), the company contributed N$19.5 billion to the Namibian economy.
These contributions were made in the areas of local procurement, indirect taxes, salary and wages, corporate income tax, PAYE, royalties and export levies and CSI projects.
B2Gold’s approach to local employment focuses on recruiting individuals from designated groups, as set out in the country’s Affirmative Action Employment Act. Preference is given to previously disadvantaged Namibians and those from local communities.
The company supports the redress of imbalance in the Namibian workplace caused by the historic legacy of discriminatory socio-economic practices.
This is achieved through the implementation of employment equity principles and affirmative action measures. Its Affirmative Action Plan has resulted in a workforce that is 95% Namibian from previously disadvantaged groups. In addition, only 1.7% of the total workforce is non-Namibian and the positions of non-Namibian employees all have Namibian understudies.
The number of previously disadvantaged employees (including women) atmiddle and senior management levels is 62%. In the past year, 97.8% of recruitment and 92.5% of promotions were from previously disadvantaged groups.
Otjikoto has consistently focused on improving local procurement levels since the initial construction of the mine. More than 76% of procurement in 2022 came from in-country purchases, with about N$16 million spent directly on SMEs within the mine’s area of influence.
Since commercial production was achieved in 2015, B2Gold has spent more than N$12 billion on local procurement. Of its total supplier spend, about 80% relates to spending on Namibian suppliers of goods and services.
Otjikoto also encourages its suppliers to support local social development programmes. For example, Treron Investments, which provides construction and maintenance services to the mine, employs 44 youths on fixed-term contracts, some of whom had the opportunity to receive additional training and employment at the mine. This is a group which is systematically excluded from the job market due to a lack of educational qualifications and experience.
Commitment to ongoing socio-economic development
In addition to making significant contributions to the Namibian economy and providing employment to almost 1 000 employees and contractors, B2Gold has invested substantially in CSI initiatives in the country, impacting the mine’s neighbouring communities of Otavi and Otjiwarongo and Namibia as a whole.
For the eight-year period from 2015 until 31 December 2022, the company invested more than N$123.1 million in CSI projects. B2Gold’s CSI programmes focus on four pillars: education; arts and culture; livelihoods; and environmental conservation.
There is a strong emphasis on investing in sustainable projects that lead to long-term impacts which, among others, contribute to economic upliftment and poverty reduction through skills training and livelihood development; promote educational opportunities, capacity building, innovation and technical excellence; and empower communities, groups and entrepreneurs to help themselves.
An example of a successful initiative to provide quality education is the Eduvision programme. It all began when the Edugate Academy in Otjiwarongo, 70 km south of the Otjikoto mine, recognised that the benefits of their private education system – with highly qualified teachers and small classes – could be shared with marginalised communities in remote areas.
The institution developed an e-learning system comprising smartboards (large interactive displays) and dedicated satellite connections between the Academy and schools in remote villages. This enables a teacher at the Academy to not only teach their small class of 10 to 15 pupils, but also pupils attending the class in a remote village – all interacting as if they are together in one class.
B2Gold realised the potential of the initiative and became a major sponsor in 2018, providing funding for several smartboards and the monthly cost of a high-speed satellite link. The EduVision programme achieved exceptional results at Tsumkwe High School, its first proofof-concept school, which is about 500 km from Otjiwarongo.
In addition, the company has also made contributions to SMEs Compete, a consultancy firm that helps Namibian SMEs grow their business, create wealth and generate employment.
In 2022, B2Gold committed to support the DoBox JumpStart incubation programme which provides support, training and coworking opportunities to young entrepreneurs. The objective of the programme is to assist early-stage entrepreneurs to develop their ideas into tangible businesses and prepare them for the next phase of growth and potential financing.
Overall, the programme has been a resounding success, providing a platform for young entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into reality and make a positive impact on their community. By providing support, training and access to funding, it has helped to empower the next generation of Namibian entrepreneurs and create a brighter future for all.