Barrick’s engineer who calls for environmental protection

12Aug 2021
By Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Barrick’s engineer who calls for environmental protection
  • in areas of investment

​​​​​​​ENVIRONMENTAL protection is a basic thing that should be observed by any investor so as to ensure that their mining activities do not affect the health of surrounding communities, Rebecca Stephen has said.

Rebecca works as an environmental engineer and Mine Closure Manager at the Buzwagi Gold mine which is under Barrick Gold Corporation.

She said during her recent exclusive interview that she earned her first degree in environmental engineering from the University of Dar es Salaam (2002) and her second degree in the same field from Cranfield University in the UK.

According to her, she also serves at Barrick Gold Corporation as the Chief Adviser on environmental issues.

She says she has been able to attend various international training courses about environmental protection.

Speaking of her responsibilities about mine closure at the Buzwagi Gold Mine, she says Barrick, just like any other large scale mine in the world, uses environmental protection systems.

She says during a mine closure, they ensure that the area of mining activities and the health of the community around that area remain safe just as before those activities began.

“To us, the issue of mine closure is very important just as it is with the opening of a new one…We ensure that in our plans, this issue is given a priority to avoid leaving behind different effects in the mines that are closed including avoiding effects on communities surrounding such areas and tarnishing the good image of the firm,” said Ms Rebecca.

She insisted that her firm would all the time ensure that the environment was protected including water sources during production activities and adhere to all directives given by environmental institutions in the country.

She noted that her firm was also responsible for presenting an implementation plan on the closure of mining activities to the government for approval and ensuring that such a plan was implemented as it should be.

“I’m proud of working for a big mining company like this one and given the responsibility of closing the big mine of Buzwagi.

“As Tanzanians, we are supervising this exercise of closing the mine and will ensure that we use our expertise in cooperation with environmental institutions in the country.

“We are going to leave the environment of the mine and its surrounding areas in good state as it was before the mine was opened,” she says.

She revealed that the process of closing down the Buzwagi Mine was expected to be completed in 2023.

“By the year of 2023, these areas of the mine will have been planted with trees and other plants, water dams will have been used for economic activities like fish farming, power generation infrastructure and empty holes will have been filled.

“The area will have a friendly environment for use by the community, depending on decisions to be made by the government,” said Rebecca.

She says Barrick, through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), has managed to implement different projects on supporting the community surrounding the Buzwagi mine.

According to Rebecca, even if the mine closes down, the projects will continue to benefit the residents of the area.

When asked, as environmental expert, on the awareness of environmental protection in the country, Rebecca responded that the awareness had been huge.

She said that the public and different institutions had given priority to the issue of environmental protection.

“Any serious investor is supposed to observe and ensure that their activities are in tandem with environmental protection so that they could leave a positive legacy for the community surrounding the area in which they close down businesses,” she noted.

On the challenges she encounters in the execution of her day-to-day duties, she says they are normal just like in any other work.

She concludes by challenging the womenfolk to seize up different opportunities that would emerge because they were capable of working the same as men.

“Despite the fact that mining activities are very challenging, as women we need to grab the opportunities of these mining activities and others in industries so that we should not be left behind,” she insisted.

After working hours, she says, she likes doing physical exercises, reading books, browsing online networks to acquire more knowledge about her environmental profession.

“In this modern world of science and technology it is important to read different materials and learn about new things that emerge around the globe. If you don't do that, you will lag behind,” says Ms Rebecca.

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