Edwin Elias: An Astute Leader Transforming the Mining Industry 

Morupule Coal Mine | Edwin Elias: Transforming the Mining Industry | The Enterprise World

The coal mining industry has been an integral pillar of the world’s energy production for centuries, powering nations, propelling industrial growth and fueling economies. As the energy demand continues to rise, the industry is witnessing a plethora of changes. Amidst these shifting tides, Edwin Elias (CEO of Morupule Coal Mine) is a trailblazing leader who stands out as a beacon of innovation and passion. With his acute business acumen and visionary leadership, Edwin has been driving Morupule Coal Mine (MCM) toward unprecedented growth. 

One Step Ahead in the Industry 

Morupule Coal Mine (MCM) is a coal mine in Southern Africa’s Central District of Botswana, located in Palapye. Established in 1973, the mine has a total inventory of 4284.9 million tonnes of coal resources, with a mining lease area covering around 42531.625 hectares. With a present capacity of 4.2 million tonnes annually, the mine operates both underground and open-cast operations. By 2027, the mine hopes to produce at least 10 million tonnes annually. 

Mineral Development Company of Botswana (MDCB), a state-owned enterprise under the control of the Government of Botswana, is the only shareholder in MCM. Morupule Coal Mine engages in both open-cast and underground mining operations. With its recently disclosed strategy, it plans to increase production from its present target of generating at least 4.5 million tonnes per year by 2023 to at least 10 million tonnes annually by 2027. 

The Transition toward Global Coal Production

Morupule Coal Mine recruits reputable partners for the execution of its strategy. These partners assist MCM in achieving its vision, which is to be a partner of choice in the global coal transition. Moreover, the mission of the company is to become a globally competitive supplier of quality coal products with the agility to deliver value to markets and diverse stakeholders. MCM passionately takes care of safety and believes in working together in a caring environment that boosts the growth of the business into a center of excellence. 

Being a transformational leader, Edwin advocates innovation and collaboration within the workplace. Catering to this, he tries to engage employees, union management, community leadership, and government senior officials to ensure that he gains their buy-in and support toward achieving the key strategic objectives. Thereafter, he identifies and develops talent that supports his ambition and business aspirations, training youths across various disciplines. By nurturing creativity within the workplace and collaborating with important partners, Edwin emphasizes harvesting visionary ideas that can contribute to the productivity and efficiency of the company. 

Teamwork, Diversity, Inclusivity 

The culture of Morupule Coal Mine is based on a strong set of values, including safety and health, working together, creating value, maintaining integrity, putting stakeholders first, and sustainability. The MCM Brand promise, “Seam to Value,” perfectly sums up its goals for the future and ensures that its message is properly understood.

Teamwork, diversity, and inclusivity build the strength of the company. It fosters collaboration and leverages the collective knowledge and experience of its employees and business partners. MCM upholds the rights of employees to a workplace free of any form of discrimination.

An established set of values and standards that guide the culture and operations of Morupule Coal Mine sit at the core of the company. These values serve as the cornerstones of the MCM brand, guiding its position in the marketplace and supporting its long-term goals. By chasing opportunities beyond the apparent and seizing them creatively and quickly, it adds value for all stakeholders. MCM recognizes the vested interests of stakeholders and engages constructively in meeting their objectives. Moreover, it focuses on satisfying its commercial customers in pursuit to broaden its market footprint.

Long-Term Sustainability of the Business 

Edwin ensures the sustainability of his business by combining risk ability with integrity. This is one of the prominent reasons why MCM is functioning for more than 21 years without a fatality and over 11 years without a Lost Time Injury (LTI). Today, it is a profitable business that empowers its ability to further look at opportunities for future expansion. 

To identify and develop talent, Morupule Coal Mine has a robust talent management program in place that enhances its ability to attract, recruit and retain critical skills within the organization. The organization partners with local institutions to develop critical skills needed within the business. The talent management program comprises coaching and mentoring programs that allow MCM to embrace the contribution of youth toward improvement in productivity and efficiency. 

MCM stays ahead of the competition by producing thermal coal for power generation. Moreover, it produces different washed coal products that are used within the agricultural sector, cement production, steel production, etc. 

Addressing the Local Demand for the Fuel

MCM uses its abundant coal reserves to address local as well as regional demand for fuel. Understanding the importance of coal to Botswana’s energy security and the economic potential of the resource to aid in the nation’s diversification initiatives is at the core of how MCM conducts business.

Power station grade coal, various crushed coal products, and washed coal are just a few of the coal products that MCM manufactures for its many clients. As indicated by the growth in export coal sales from the South African Richards Bay Coal Terminal, there is a considerable demand for high-value-sized coal products in the regional industrial sector, particularly continuing Asian demand.

Seamless Customer Experience

The latest upgrade in technology has helped Morupule Coal Mine to provide a seamless experience to its customers. It has built a strategic pillar on digitalization and integration as part of its 5-year strategy in which the organization makes sure that it is investing in the most appropriate technology, integrating its mining system and processes with it. Implementing various technologies within mining operations, MCM finds itself fortunate to partner with global companies for advancing its technological landscape further. 

Edwin and his team have planned to take the company forward in terms of products and services. Recently, it has launched a 5-year strategy in which MCM is planning to increase production from 4.2 mtpa to 10 mtpa by 2027. After the successful implementation of key strategic objectives, the organization expects to deliver 10 mtpa by 2027. During this period, MCM will invest to acquire the appropriate technology, get the right skills and talent, and optimize the processes that will equally help to be more productive and cost-effective.  

Cost-effective Procurement of Goods and Services

By offering cost-effective procurement of goods and services, supply chain management (SCM) is responsible for supporting MCM’s business plan. Moreover, only SCM is permitted to choose contracts or send purchase orders to vendors, and all the goods for the mine coming from suppliers are required to pass through the SCM section. No work or goods can be brought into the mine without an official order from SCM. 

Through the Standards Office, SCM facilitates the marketing and testing of new or alternative products and is in charge of supplier registration and evaluation. Policies, procedures, and proper business processes are followed to allow for the best possible position to obtain goods and services needed in a timely and cost-effective manner. 

Navigating the Pandemic

Like every other successful leader, Edwin came across various challenges that contributed to becoming what he is today. The Covid-19 pandemic was one of those challenges. Edwin responded to the challenge by accelerating the technological adoption at the organization and further created an opportunity to build strong relationships with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM). Furthermore, he tackled the problem of critical skills attraction and retention for the business. Morupule Coal Mine partnered with local institutions to further develop the necessary skills needed. A global increase in the demand for coal triggered the growth of the organization. 

A People-centric Strategy 

Morupule Coal Mine dealt with Covid-19 successfully by building a people-centric strategy that employs multiple management modalities to combat the pandemic. The organization took efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19 and lessen transmission in the workplace. Its efforts were based on a shared duty between employees, management, contractors, and business partners, as well as the communities. 

Business continuity is an essential service provider, thus MCM made sure that it served other vital service clients during each stage of the outbreak. The company occasionally had to carry out essential health and hygiene procedures, including fumigating offices and mine equipment, and tightening up health procedures.

Since the Covid 19 pandemic outbreak, MCM has taken swift action to halt the infection and spread of the virus. An internal response team was immediately formed to evaluate the hazards associated with Covid 19 and create mitigation plans. Weekly reviews were also carried out to ensure compliance.

MCM implemented several significant measures, some of which are still being strengthened today, including:

  • Sanitizer dispensers should be placed strategically around the mine, and everybody entering the property should be screened.
  • Temperature checks upon arriving at work and leaving work
  • Portable hand sanitizers and cotton masks
  • When face-to-face encounters are necessary but cannot be avoided, only virtual meetings are permitted.

Social Way as the Governing Framework 

Morupule Coal Mine is a responsible organization that has a social way as the governing framework for the social performance of other activities related to the mine operations. Its social performances include encompassing stakeholder engagement, management of social risks and their impacts, human rights, and community socio-economic development. The main principle is to deliver a lasting positive contribution to communities. Managing social risks and impacts, respecting human rights, engaging with affected and interested stakeholders, empowering vulnerable and marginalized groups, and integrating social performance into the operational process validate MCM’s social commitment. 

Resolving social issues with the help of a strong team and empowering vulnerable people to lead an appropriate lifestyle, the social way of MCM includes dealing with social incidents. Morupule Coal Mine has taken a step to introduce complaints and grievance boxes in different areas where people can lodge their complaints. These boxes have the toll-free number and all incidents reported through the boxes or any other means are recorded and monitored.

The success of the company is attributed to the support accorded by the shareholder, the Board of Directors, Executive Management, and the rest of the employees. The ability of an organization to be proactive, innovative and build sustainable partnerships with key stakeholders is one of the reasons behind its long-standing success.  

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