Saturday, August 13, 2022

Botswana to be the leading nickel province in Africa

Tati Nickel took a giant step in Botswana’s path to beneficiation and diversification on Monday as it launched its P4 billion project, Botswana’s first ever metals refinery, which, in addition, is the world’s first ever Activox refinery that uses state of the art hydrometallurgical technology.
The Activiox refinery represents the next step for both Tati Nickel and Botswana as it will enable the beneficiation of nickel and copper and will further enhance Botswana’s mining skill base with the addition of hydrometallurgy, said Collins Steyn, president and Chief Executive officer of LionOre.
Steyn said LionOre believes hydrometallurgy will play an increasingly important and significant role in the future refining of the world’s resources. “We are delighted to be able to offer future generations the opportunity to develop a new skill in hydrometallurgy, which will ultimately be transferable anywhere in the world,” said Steyn.
In Botswana, he said, their initiative would substantially extend the life of Tati Nickel to beyond 2030 in addition to the potential at Selkirk. Steyn pointed out that the tones of metal produced by Phoenix increased five-fold to a total of 236 000 tones of nickel.
However, he pointed out that the refinery expected to have a broader impact on Botswana and not only on the mining sector or the local communities around Francistown. This investment, according to Steyn, represents a 3 percent contribution to the economic diversification of Botswana, 1 percent of the country’s GDP and a 2.5 percent increase in export earnings and this would positively benefit all the citizens of Botswana. “This clearly symbolizes the strength of the partnership between LionOre and the government which is a partnership combined to maximize the value of our joint resources in the region,” he added.
Peter Breese, the Chief Operations Officer said at the occassion, “This is a significant skills development project in that Botswana has never had a metal refinery prior to this project.” He stated that LionOre thus saw this investment as an opportunity to develop enhanced skills within Botswana so as to add to the future economic prosperity of the country.
The new Activox refinery will have a capacity to produce 25 000 tones of highly refined nickel and 22 000 tones of refined copper per year.
This year, said Breese, Tati Nickel is targeting to produce around 14 500 tones of nickel which represents a stunning 12 fold increase in production since the mine started in 1988.
“The new refinery will now further increase annual metal production by approximately 100 percent. This will further increase foreign currency revenues for the economy and dramatically contribute to the economic diversification of Botswana away form diamonds,” he explained.
Breese further stated the addition of the refinery to Tati operations was the next logical step as it would enable Tati to complete the process from mining the rock all the way through to making the finished nickel and copper metal. This, he said, would further add value to the resource base of Botswana.
In his remarks, President Mogae stated that LionOre International, through Tati Nickel Mining Company, having successfully established Africa’s largest Nickel mine has now also introduced this state of the art facility. The amount being spent, he said, is a clear vote of confidence on our investor-friendly mineral policy and fiscal regime.
“It had been the thrust of our policy for mineral development, and indeed other sectors of the economy, to create an environment where our country will realize maximum benefit. This will also allow investors a fair and decent return on their investment,” Mogae said.
The President said the project is one of the examples of how new mineral sector investment is having a positive effect on Botswana’s economy and added that it should increase the life of the mine by not less than ten years. In the process, he said, the mine’s output of refined nickel could increase substantially thus making Botswana a benificiator of finished high grade metal.
In his closing remarks, the (now former) Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Charles Tibone stated that this project would go a long way in its economic and social impact on Botswana.
The project is going to require a new power infranstracture at a cost of $24 million. This, he said, would include the construction of a 80km 220 kv transmission line from Phokoje near Selibe Phikwe to Tati. Tibone said the project is also expected to use about 17.4 million liters of water per day and that water would be drawn from the Shashe Dam.
“National Development Plan (NDP) 9 aptly themed ‘Towards Realization of Vision 2016: Sustainable and Diversified Development through Competitiveness in Global Markets’ is a huge challenge to development stakeholders in the country,” said Tibone. “It is our ardent hope and belief that this project will significantly contribute to all these issues of national importance.”


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