Monday, March 30, 2020

Botswana’s mining sector could expand in 2020

Botswana’s mining sector will be getting a boost this year as major mining projects commence, in a development that will sustain the industry and create jobs, according to the ministry of Mineral resources, Green Technology and Energy Security. 

On Monday, the ministry’s top official, Lefoko Moagi, told parliament that the mining sector, which accounts for 35 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) output, will get increased activity levels as mega projects are undertaken. 

Besides the $2 billion Jwaneng Cut 9 project which started in 2019 to expand the lifespan of the world’s most valuable diamond mine from 2028 to 2035, the Orapa Cut 3 project will pick up pace this year, moving beyond the pre-feasibility stage. The Orapa mine, which is the world’s largest diamond mine by area, is being expanded to last until 2046. 

Closer to Orapa, the Canadian miner Lucara’s wholly owned Karowe mine is planning to go underground in 2023, increasing its lifespan to 2041. Lucara has set aside $53 million which will be used in second half of 2020 for the detailed engineering, design work and early procurement initiatives at Karowe. 

After securing $565 million in funding last year, Khoemacau Copper Mining has awarded a five-year underground mining services contract to Barminco to provide mining services, with work expected to be ramped up in the second quarter of the year. Khoemacau’s project involves three underground mines producing around 1.2 million tonnes each over the first five years of production. Mining is expected to start at these mines in the first half of 2021. 

Minergy Coal will also ramp up production this year, expanding its capabilities as it assembles a plant for the Masama mine to reach plate capacity be the second half of 2020. Minergy began production last year July, producing 220,582 tonnes of coal and selling 85,017 tonnes of coal. 

Minergy has been raising funding, including the P72.3 million received from the state-owned Minerals Development Company Botswana (MDCB) to fund its expansion. The mine which currently employs 275 people says it will increase staff to 450 this year to reach production targets and meet the rising power demand in the region. 

Moagi also reported that Tshukudu Metals has completed a bankable feasibility study for mining copper and silver approximately 90 kilometres from Gantsi, with the company planning to apply for mining licence this year. 

The mothballed Ghaghoo Mine in the CKGR which has been under care and maintenance since early 2017 is said to have found a potential investor who anticipates acquiring the struggling diamond mine. 

Botswana’s only gold mine, Mupane, has submitted a new application for developing their Golden Eagle open pit about 15 KM from Francistown along the Old Matsiloje Road. The Mine currently employs 377 employees. 

The minister has disclosed that MDCB is in the process of concluding operational reviews of Botswana Ash and Morupule Coal Mine to identify growth opportunities and how they may be realized in the near to medium term. 

“Botswana Ash will conduct feasibility studies to explore the viability of diversifying the business by producing high value mineral and chemical products such potash, fertilizer, salt, and detergents,” said Moagi. 

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