Digging deep

Kabelo Adamson

Mining sector shows signs of recovery

With the mining sector looking to dig itself out of past holes to new heights, Minerals Minister, Lefoko Moagi has urged locals to cash in on opportunities that arise from the anticipated resurrection.

Addressing the media this week, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology, and Energy Security said it was exciting to see signs of recovery in the industry – the mainstay of the local economy – following a disastrous 2020.

“We have seen prices of minerals that we produce, being diamonds, copper, gold and many others like iron ore starting to pick up,” declared Moagi, adding this serves as motivation to investors to re-open mines that were closed.

He pointed out operational mines are expected to generate further job opportunities as numerous mines across the country undergo expansion while others ramp up production.

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Citing Lucara Diamond Corp as an example, Moagi noted the Canadian-based enterprise recently secured funding to expand into underground operations at their Karowe Mine. He also mentioned Khoemacau Copper Mine, which started production in Toteng and has an estimated 22-year lifespan.

Following the appointment of yet another Canadian outfit, Premium Nickel Resources (PNR) as the preferred bidder in the revival of BCL Mines, Moagi revealed they are expecting feedback from the company by the end of August.

The Minister explained this feedback will determine the way forward in possibly reopening the BCL Mines, which as well as Selibe Phikwe Copper includes Tati Nickel.

“This will open for more job opportunities which Batswana have been longing for,” added Minister Moagi.

In addition, the Minerals head announced the Ministry recently awarded Tshukudu Metals Mining a Licence to establish a copper mine in Ghanzi.

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“This will bring revenue into the country as well as jobs and other services. During the construction phase, it will absorb around 1, 000 people, but when the mine is operational, it will have 600 people,” he said.

Despite Moagi’s optimism, according to the latest Index of the Physical Volume of Mining Production, for the first quarter of 2021 production stood at 74.4 percent of its target, a year-on-year decrease of 10.2 percent from 84.6 recorded in the first quarter of 2020.

The main contributor to the decline came from the diamonds sector, which contributed a negative 11.7 percentage points.

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Soda Ash was the only positive contributor, adding 0.1 of a percentage point.

However, on a quarter-on-quarter basis, the index of mining production increased by 10.4 percent from the 64 percent seen in the fourth quarter of 2020.

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