Earthquakes are unpredictable natural phenomena that pose a threat to life, infrastructure and the environment. Related studies have revealed that some of the earthquakes are mining induced as confirmed by research done in deep gold mines in South Africa. The 2017 Botswana Geoscience Institute (BGI) report warned the country about the risk of earthquakes emanating from the ongoing continental rifting due to the southward extension of the East African Rift System across the Okavango Delta region. The earthquake that occurred in 2018 with its epicenter in central part of Botswana confirmed the report. It was observed that most mining operations in Botswana were unprepared and that if the earthquake was higher on the Richter scale, damage and the loss of life would have been significant. This paper intents to sensitize the Botswana mining industry about the reality of earthquakes. The paper provides expresses procedures to be taken during and after significant earthquakes, with emphasis on ideal earthquake design safety factors based on historical events locally, regionally and internationally.
Botswana is a 576000 square kilometer country landlocked between Republic of South Africa in the south and east, Namibia in the west, Zambia and Zimbabwe in the north with a population of about 2.2 million. It is densely populated with better infrastructure along the eastern side but sparsely populated in the west where almost two thirds of the country is overlain by Kgalagadi Desert. Distribution of minerals in Botswana is shown in Figure 1.
The backbone of the economy has been predominantly mining although other foreign exchange contributors have included tourism and beef production. It is a generally stable and peaceful country which has been the primary attribute for its rapid economic growth.
Other than recurrent drought spells, the country has not yet dealt with significant natural catastrophes in the form of major earthquakes, tornados, heat waves or flooding where significant loss of life and damage to property warranted large scale international intervention such as flying in medicines, food or rescuers. However, the magnitude of unusual natural events such as earthquakes have taken center stage due to their unpredictability and the tendency to cause damage to crucial infrastructure such as transport facilities and property. While it is not implied that the country is ill-prepared to mitigate such events as earthquakes, this paper aims to further sensitize the country and its most crucial "cash cow" the mineral industry about its vulnerability to earthquakes and the urgent need to plan and design earthquake resistant structures.