Former Debswana Managing Director (MD), Jim Gowans received a fitting farewell a last week after three years of leading the diamond company. Debswana held a joint farewell and welcome dinner ceremony for Gowans, who left the company after his contract expired on December 31st 2013, and incoming MD Balisi Bonyongo, who has since replaced the former.
Speaking during the event, Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Kitso Mokaila hailed Gowans as a leader who has contributed monumentally to seeing the growth of Debswana during a tough economic time for the industry. “Jim leaves behind a legacy of high performance to be proud of. His approach has seen Debswana through difficult times when the global economic climate was unpredictable and the demand for diamonds was at an all-time low,” said Mokaila.
He said Gowans leaves behind the best safety record in the history of Debswana of two Lost Time Injuries (LTI) recorded in 2013. “Safety has always been a concern for Jim and he has made that a core focus for the business and thus improving the safety statistics for all Debswana operations. ISO 14001 and 18001 certification was maintained during his tenure,” Mokaila noted.
According to the 2012 Stakeholders Report, the Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) in 2012 was 0,09 compared to 0,19 in 2011. A total of 11 LTIs were recorded (in 2012) against 13 in 2011.
In the 2010-2011 report to stakeholders, the company’s (LTIFR) was 0.19 (in 2010) compared to 0.09 in 2009. A total of 19 Lost Time Injuries (LTIs) were recorded (in 2010) compared to six in 2009.
Under his leadership, through the Cost and Operational Efficiencies Project, Debswana recorded improvements across a range of productivity and efficiency key performance indicators, focusing on mining, treatment, and maintenance and supply chain.
According to the stakeholders’ reports, Debswana mines recorded excellent performance in 2010, producing 22.2 million carats compared to 17.7 million in 2009 following challenges due to the global recession. The company produced 20.22 million carats in 2012, down 2.67 million carats on the previous year (2011: 22,89 million).
“It was during his tenure that Debswana undertook several significant developmental projects that will sustain the current production at its mines for some years to come. One such project is the Jwaneng Cut 8 Project which will provide access to approximately 86 million tonnes of ore to be treated, yielding 102 million carats of high quality diamonds,” Minister Mokaila highlighted.
Giving vote of thanks, incoming Chairman of Debswana Board, Phillipe Mellier congratulated Gowans for his valuable contribution in directing Debswana towards becoming a high performance organisation, stating that, “Because of his persistent guidance, Debswana has achieved phenomenal performance, most notably in 2013 when it met and exceeded most of its targets for the year.”
Deputy Chairman, Eric Molale described Gowans as a “world renowned miner” who has broken Debswana records which were set by his predecessors with figures to attest to his leadership and professionalism which has led Debswana to great heights.”
Gowans was in December last year appointed the new Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the world’s biggest gold producer, Barrick Gold Corporation, a Canadian company.