Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Botswana seeks to have more citizens participate in minerals sector

The minister of Minerals and Energy minister, Lefoko Moagi has said that the Botswana government is working on changing some laws and policies with an intent to enhance value creation and citizen beneficiation in the domestic mining industry.

“Botswana’s Mineral Policy, which was approved by Parliament in 2022, provides an enabling environment where local participation in prospecting, exploration and mining, particularly by citizen companies, is promoted. My Ministry continues to review minerals legislation to entrench these new imperatives into our statutory framework,” said Moagi.

At the moment, Moagi said that the government through the Ministry of Minerals and Energy is reviewing the Mines and Minerals Act and parts of the amendments being considered include expanding reservations for citizens in the minerals industry.

Moagi was responding to a question in Parliament in which he was asked to state the number of exploration licences held by citizens and those held by foreigners.

“Government continues to look at ways of developing processes that will assist the growth of our minerals industry, including growth in meaningful participation by citizen owned companies in the industry. Funding and capital markets are key to this,” said Moagi.

Moagi had previously told parliament that they are working to have more Batswana participate in the diamond industry. He said the state owned Okavango Diamond Company (ODC), which sells 25 percent of diamonds from Debswana, is finalizing plans to categorize their customers, with a certain portion of diamonds reserved for citizen owned companies.

Parliament has also been told in the past that following the relocation of De Beers’ sorting and valuing business to Botswana in 2013, the number of diamond cutting and polishing factories have climbed from 6 to 31. Botswana recently announced that it has acquired 24 percent stake in diamond trader HB Antwerp.

The announcement has been interpreted by some quarters as a challenge to a decades old arrangement with De Beers. This follows a recent public attack of De Beers by Masisi at a political rally at which he announced that Botswana will demand “more” from its long time diamond mining and trading partner, De Beers.

De Beers and Botswana are currently locked in negotiations over the sales agreement and mining rights. The 2011 sales agreement that governs the relationship between the two parties expired in September 2020, and they have set a deadline for June to have reached a deal over a sales agreement for the next ten years. De Beers’ officials responded by saying that they are confident that a deal will be reached, extending the 54 year old partnership that began in 1969 after De Beers discovered the diamonds in Botswana.

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