Botswana potent for mining

Baitshepi Sekgweng
ECONOMICALLY VIABLE: Mining sector offers great opportunity

75 percent of land mass remains unexplored

Chief Technical Officer at Minerals Development Company Botswana(MDCB) Matthews Bagopi, says there is immense potential in Botswana’s mining sector investment.

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Bagopi told the Invest in Botswana Business Forum at the just ended US-Africa Business Summit that Botswana is one of the most prospective countries in the world that remains underexplored. The forum brought together influential leaders and stakeholders to explore potential investment opportunities and strengthen business ties between Botswana and the United States.

According to Bagopi, 25 percent of the land mass has been fully explored and mapped while 75 percent underlain by the Kgalagadi sands are not well explored therefore presenting opportunity for modern deep sound exploration technologies.

While the mining sector remains the backbone of Botswana’s economy dominated by the diamonds, Bagopi said the heavy dependence on diamonds remains a risk.

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“Issues such as challenged diamond markets, constrained diamond revenues and reducing margins are becoming a problem in the sector. That is basically caused by the changing consumer trends, oversupply of rough diamonds, impact of synthetic diamonds and increased mining costs as mines go deeper and contemplate underground mining, this all comes into play and affect the diamond sector as well as returns,” he said.

However, with Botswana endowed by a sizeable mineral resources such as coal, copper, nickel, manganese, iron ore, gold and coal bed methane there is an alternative need for mineral revenue sources that will grow and diversify the mining and mineral investment portfolio and optimizing on the existing mineral portfolio in order to earn increased returns and achieve financial security for Botswana.

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Botswana remains one of the most prospective countries in the world for diamond exploration with four fully operational mines being; Debswana’s Orapa, Letlhakane, Jwaneng mines and Lucara Diamond Corp’s Karowe. Nonetheless, three mines being BK11 & Damtshaa and Ghagoo and Lerala mines remain under care and maintenance.

“Diamond supply-demand gap continues to widen therefore future supply depends on exploration and expanding downstream value chain activities which align with the strong upstream activities to benefit Botswana,” continued Bagopi.

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With a role to drive towards diversification of mineral revenue streams, promote investment across the mining value chain, emphasis on exploring beneficiation and value creation opportunities, there are opportunities in mining such as unexplored kimberlites, growing base metal district in Ghanzi/Maun copper belt and ample soda ash resource with potential for potash and a downstream chemical value chain,” explained Bagopi.

As a result, 34 potential opportunities of projects all in development stages are available in Botswana with copper and nickel forming majority of those in Selibe Phikwe, Ngamiland and Ghanzi areas. With regards to diamonds mines and mineral development opportunities, kimberlites such as Nxaunxau, Martins Drift, Gope, Kikao-Khutse, Kgatleng, Okwa, Kokong, Mabuasehube, Lekgodu and Tsabong are available and not fully explored.

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With regards to coal, Botswana is endowed with coal resources estimated at 212 billion tonnes, with some unexploited seam having metallurgical coal characteristics. As it stands only two mines are operating being Masama and Morupule with a third under development in Mmamabula.

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