THE government has ordered local mining companies to only procure certain goods and services in the country.
The move, which comes into effect tomorrow, covers services such as transport and logistics, accommodation and waste management.
According to a letter written to mining companies by the Commissioner of Mines, Mohale Ralikariki, such services would be “strictly reserved” for Basotho.
The resolution, he says, is in line with Section 11 of the Mines and Minerals Act which provides for preference of Lesotho goods and services.
Mr Ralikariki also says beginning tomorrow, mining companies and their contractors would no longer be allowed to provide accommodation for their staff outside the country because there is adequate housing in Lesotho.
All waste management contracts, Mr Ralikariki further says in the letter, “should strictly be left for competition among Basotho”.
Mr Ralikariki also indicates that the ministry would help link mining companies to local suppliers.
“The Ministry of Mining will also assist mining companies by creating a slot in the upcoming Mining Dialogue on which regular mine suppliers and contractors will be told to procure transport locally,” states the letter.
Mining Minister Lebohang Thotanyana yesterday told the Lesotho Times that the regulations seek to empower local entrepreneurs so they could meaningfully participate in the mining industry.
“The spirit in which we, together with the mining companies, are implementing these regulations, is to boost localisation in the mining sector and alleviate poverty among Basotho through the creation of job opportunities,” he said.
“I, for one, have made a commitment to help improve the lives of Basotho through increasing their participation in the mining industry. So this move is part of our efforts to create job-opportunities for the people.
“We have locals who can adequately take on the roles currently being played by suppliers from outside the country.”
The minister said the three services would be added to those already being exclusively provided by local suppliers which are mine contracting, drilling and blasting.
Mr Thotanyana, however, emphasized that the regulations were in no way intended to create operational challenges for the companies, adding the ministry would be flexible where local procurement is not possible.
“This is not intended to create unnecessary bottlenecks to the mining companies as exceptions will be made, after negotiations, for highly specialised services not available locally,” he said.
Contacted for comment, Letšeng Diamonds Chief Executive Officer, Mazvi Maharasoa, said her company was already procuring the three services locally.
“These regulations will not have much of an impact on our side because we are already procuring these services locally,” Ms Maharasoa said.
“Letšeng Diamonds is working well with local suppliers although we sometimes encounter minor challenges here and there.”