Up to the late 1980's environmental management within Debswana was adhoc and driven largely by individual senior managers and other environmentally aware employees, but there were no formal systems in place. In this way the Game Parks at the mines had been developed and pollution prevention was treated as part of good housekeeping under the safety programme
In 1992/93 the company carried out in-depth assessments of its interaction with the environment at all its operations. This was the first step in the development of formal environmental management systems, and it has been repeated many times since then as part of the ISO 14001 process. Debswana's first formal environmental management system was developed in 1993/94 at Orapa. This was based on the British Standard 7750, which is generally recognised as the forerunner to the present ISO 14001 EMS standard.
In the mid 1990's it became clear that the ISO standard for environmental management systems was fast nearing completion and a decision was taken to adopt this new standard on all the Debswana Mines. It was also decided that the mines would seek independent certification for their environmental management systems once these were fully implemented. This was intended to illustrate the company's environmental management practices were world class.
In early 1996 Jwaneng Mine developed its first ISO 14001 based EMS. This was a paper-based system, and it soon became clear that computerisation would ultimately have to take place to handle all the documentation. In the final push towards certification, which started in early 1999, consultants were engaged to computerise the EMS and to conduct awareness training. At the same time the finishing touches were applied to a computerised register of all Botswana legislation which has a bearing on the environment. Jwaneng achieved 14001 certification in December 2000, and Orapa and Letlhakane Mines commenced with the development and implementation of an ISO based EMS during 1997, and achieved certification in March 2001.
Jwaneng Mine's achievement can be put in perspective by noting that at the time, only 122 mining and quarrying companies worldwide had achieved ISO 14001 certification.