Dr Godwin Beene
A Mining Industry Stalwart

Serving as the country manager for the leading mining operation in Zambia is no easy feat but this task currently lies in the formidable hands of Dr Godwin Beene, the country manager of First Quantum Minerals (FQM) Zambia since January 2023. FQM boasts an expansive presence in Zambia’s North-Western Province, operating three prominent mines: Kansanshi in Solwezi, Trident in Kalumbila, and Enterprise, a dedicated nickel mining operation in Kalumbila. Notably, FQM is Zambia’s largest taxpayer, having made remarkable contributions that have surpassed an impressive $5.7 billion.

Taking on the critical role of country manager, Dr Beene is responsible for overseeing FQM’s interactions with the Zambian government and its affiliated agencies, enabling the mine leadership to concentrate on their core operational endeavours. In this multifaceted position, Dr Beene adeptly navigates the complex landscape of macroeconomic influences that challenge business operations. Moreover, he is the conduit for effectively communicating FQM’s activities to the general public and investors. Reflecting on his responsibilities, Dr Beene explains, “I am entrusted with addressing matters that directly concern our operations in Zambia and managing the crucial connection with the government. When issues warrant attention from government ministries, I promptly address them through escalation or resolution. Additionally, I diligently ensure that the media and wider stakeholders accurately portray our company, guarding against misrepresentations.” This comprehensive summary encapsulates the vital role Dr Beene plays within FQM.

The mining sector is an exciting workplace because it provides a wide career development window. There is nothing you cannot do in mining.

Dr Godwin Beene

Born and raised in the remote Makala Village in Monze District of Southern Province, Dr Beene experienced the challenges of poverty first-hand. He vividly recalls attending school without shoes and writing on the ground in the early 1960s. However, his determination to overcome adversity led him to pursue higher education. After completing national service, Dr Beene was sponsored by a mining firm to study chemical engineering in the United Kingdom, commencing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Wales, University College Swansea in 1978. He thus feels greatly indebted to the mining industry. In 1984, he returned to his alma mater and enrolled for a master’s degree and ultimately obtained a Ph.D. by studying the behavior of natural mineral systems and clays and developing a model to predict the behavior of mineral systems under specific environments, specializing in surfaces and colloids.

Dr Beene has contributed significantly to Zambia’s mining industry throughout his illustrious career. He began working at the Nchanga Tailings Leach Plant in 1981, the largest hydrometallurgical plant in Africa at the time. During the time of privatization of the mining industry by the MMD government, he was the manager – metallurgy at Nkana Mine and crossed over to Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) under Anglo American Corporation as manager – of technical services. Later, he returned to Nkana Mine to oversee the construction of a leach plant worth $40 million, demonstrating his expertise and commitment to the industry.

In addition to his accomplishments in the mining sector, Dr Godwin Beene made notable contributions in the realm of public service. He assumed the role of permanent secretary of the Ministry of Mines, serving under late President Rupiah Banda for three years. Following a change of government, he ventured into private consultancy until he joined FQM in 2019.

“The investment in the extension of S3 is to increase the life of the mine and continue offering direct employment to Zambians for the next 20 years,” says Dr Beene, commenting on FQM’s landmark $1.25 billion investment to prolong operations at Kansanshi Mine. “As mining progresses and gets deeper, the grade of the ore reduces. The investment will increase the tonnage of the copper ore produced to compensate for the loss in grade, essentially preserving the quantity of copper produced at Kansanshi.”

As Zambia aims to diversify the economy from copper mining, Dr Beene emphasized FQM’s commitment to investing a further $100 million to boost operations at Enterprise. The nickel mine in Kalumbila District will be the largest nickel mine in Africa. “The mining sector is an exciting workplace because it provides a wide career development window. There is nothing you cannot do in mining,” Dr Beene comments. He notes that the industry requires not just miners, engineers, and geologists but also accountants, administrators, and so many other professionals. 

Shifting the focus to community impact, Dr Beene shares that FQM’s dedication to the communities surrounding its mining operations is evident through its sustainable development initiatives. “The focus has always been on people. While workers are a crucial resource to our operations, the people in our catchment area are equally important. Their well-being is of paramount importance to us,” Dr Beene highlights. The company invests in schools, hospitals, and small businesses to ensure the sustainability and well-being of these communities. Additionally, FQM has played a crucial role in establishing the Kalumbila Multi-Facility Economic Zone (MFEZ), which will fast-track economic development in the North-Western Province.

Regarding environmental responsibility, Dr Beene states, “We make every effort to minimise our impact on the environment using technological advancements and sustainable mining practices.” FQM has invested in a state-of-the-art tailings storage facility to contain the externalities within the mining areas. The company also actively replenishes biodiversity by planting trees in its catchment areas and restocking wildlife in the West Lunga National Park, contributing to the conservation efforts of the lesser-known national park in Zambia.

Dr Beene’s leadership extends beyond his role at FQM. He chairs a successful mission school board on the Copperbelt dedicated to providing a holistic education to children and preparing them for tomorrow’s challenging environment. He currently is the chair of the End Malaria Council (EMC), an initiative of an alliance of African leaders whose aim is to eradicate the disease in Africa. He is also the current president of the Zambia Chamber of Mines.

Dr Beene’s passion for mentorship and developing young talent in the mining industry is evident. He believes in the potential of young Zambians and aims to increase their participation in the sector. Dr Beene encourages young people to think of mining as a field that offers diverse opportunities for personal and professional growth. He envisions a future where young, open-minded individuals play a crucial role in leading the industry’s transition toward sustainability and creating a prosperous future for the country.

Outside of his work at FQM, Dr Beene dedicates his time to photography, farming and mentoring young people in the mining industry and in the engineering profession in general. He finds fulfilment in working with his hands and developing his farm in Kalulushi District. Maintaining his physical well-being is essential to Dr Beene, who walks up to 30 kilometres each week and ensures he rests adequately to make positive contributions in all aspects of his life.

Dr Godwin Beene’s incredible journey from a humble background to becoming a renowned leader in Zambia’s mining industry showcases his resilience and unwavering dedication to the work he undertook. As the country manager for FQM, his role in managing relationships with the government and stakeholders is instrumental in the company’s success. Dr Beene’s commitment to sustainable development, community engagement and talent development highlights his visionary leadership and deep-rooted passion for creating a brighter future for Zambia’s mining industry.

The focus has always been on people. While workers are a crucial resource to our operations, the people in our catchment area are equally important. Their well-being is of paramount importance to us.

Dr Godwin Beene

Modest beginnings and tenacity

Dr Godwin Beene is at the helm of the largest mining firm in Zambia but his beginnings are far removed from his current situation. He grew up in Makala Village in Monze, Southern Province and recalls going to school barefoot and writing on the floor. However, he was strong-willed and was able to rise above his circumstances.

Not just a manager

Dr Beene jokes that he is not just a manager but also a man-urger. As a leader, he believes it is his duty to find out the aspirations of those he works with and to push them to achieve their potential. He presides over an inviting work environment where his colleagues typically refer to him as the Doc.

Dr Beene enjoys mentoring young people in the mining industry. He emphasizes that there’s a role for everyone as the industry requires multiple different skill sets.

Mining industry veteran

Dr Beene academic background is in engineering and he has worked in the mining industry in both the public and private sector throughout his career. He has served as permanent secretary at the Ministry of Mines and is now the country manager of FQM Zambia and the president of the Zambia Chamber of Mines.

FQM is the biggest taxpayer in Zambia and runs the largest mining operation in the country with three mines: Kansanshi in Solwezi, Trident in Kalumbila and Enterprise Nickel Mine in Kalumbila (set to be Africa’s largest nickel mine).

Hobbies and pastimes

Outside of work, Dr Beene enjoys farming, photography and exercise. He enjoys working with his hands and prioritize his physical fitness. Further, Dr Beene tries to strike a balance between work and rest, despite a demanding schedule.

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