Time to look beyond diamonds
The local Mining industry has been advised to delve deeper into the possibilities of mining minerals other than diamonds in an effort to diversify Botswana’s mining sector.
The industry is heavily reliant on diamonds, with the sparkling stones currently contributing over two-thirds of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Speaking at the official opening of the two-day Mining Investment Botswana Conference this week, Botswana Chamber of Mines Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Charles Siwawa, highlighted this need for diversification.
The second edition of the conference, which was initiated in Botswana last year, took place under the theme ‘Where Miners, Investors, and Service Providers Converge in Southern Africa’.
Siwawa continued that the mining sector should look to other minerals, such as coal and copper amongst others.
“Botswana should take off its blinkers and re-examine each and every commodity we have and extensively explore ways with which to mine them efficiently,” Siwawa said, moderating a panel discussion on ‘Latest Trends and Developments – Investors and Miners Perspective of the Mineral Industry’.
He stressed that there are unexplored possibilities with regards to other minerals, an undertaking Siwawa believes would take the country’s mining sector to even greater heights.
For his part, Minergy Limited South Africa, CEO, Andre Boje said the exploration of coal in the continent could prove useful to the over 600 million Africans who are living without power.
He added that it would also translate to the growth of local economies.
“Investment in Africa is vital,” he said when outlining the problems that have hindered exploration of minerals in the continent.
Boje noted one of the main challenges hindering exploration of minerals in Africa was funding, which he explained was the major driver in mineral exploration.
Another obstacle Boje highlighted was the lack of expertise amongst the local communities, hence an influx of explorers coming from as far as Canada.
Responding to a question by Botswana Geoscience Institute (BGI) Director Science Delivery, Puso Akanyang on the environmental impact of coal mining, Boje replied, “The coal industry produces bad emissions from coal where it is being burnt to produce power.”
However, the Minergy man maintained that coal mining has a minimal impact on the environment.
Boje further revealed that the Botswana Railways (BR) and the Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) are working on taking Botswana coal to other export markets.
He said the initiative is to assist landlocked countries, such as Botswana and Zimbabwe, reach outside markets.