Friday, August 12, 2022

Makgekgenene cuts his teeth in mining

Atang Makgekgenene this week became the trail-blazing Motswana in mining business after signing a multi-million dollar deal with BCL Mine that will also ignite hopes aimed at reviving the economic life of Selebi-Phikwe town.

Makgekgenene’s┬ácompany, Global Initiative, will┬áin the next┬á12 years┬ábe involved in the extraction┬áof residual metal contained in BCL tailings dams and slag dumpÔÇö which in total is estimated to involve┬á145 million tonnes┬áthat was built over the last 36 years.

“The Selebi Phikwe Mine has an estimated tailing resource of 100 million tones and 45 million┬átones of slag.

“Contained in the tailings┬áand slag resource is approximately┬á300 000 tonnes of nickel of which 50 percent can be recovered.

Speaking in an exclusive interview┬áwith Sunday Standard on Friday, he said: “We have invested a fair amount of┬ámoney, technology and the geological knowhow over the last two years.

“After the signing of the agreement with BCL mine… before the┬áend of the year we should have closed this other chapter,” he said referring to pushing the project to bankable feasibility study.

The biggest challenge in the next three to four months  will be to try to put his  work together in a bid to raise US $ 400 million (about P 3.2 billion) for the  construction of  treatment plant able to handle  40, 000 tonnes of combine tailing and slag.

That will involve re-testing of the dumps with the services of an independent┬á party┬á with the view of┬á determining┬á the quality of┬á base metals contained thereinÔÇöand find out whether they are of any economic value.

That will set the stage for the construction of the plant that is expected to take between 12- to- 24 months.

The capital raising is expected to be aided by the agreement that he has already signed with BCL Mine on excess to tailing resource.

The land mark agreement that represents the biggest Public Private Partnership (PPPs), between a citizen owned company and a quasi government owned mining outfit.

Makgekgenene expressed confidence in the project despite the sensitivity of base metals prices in the international markets. 

“If the prices could stay at the current levels then I think it will be a good business. The take-off contracts are not┬áan issue,” he said.

Global Initiatives will have excess to tailings that have been building up since 1974 when the mine started full production and will extract nickel, copper and cobalt through improved technology to be acquired from China.

He said┬áthey will use BCL’s smelter to treat their ore┬áand┬áafter will either sell to BCL or┬ágo to the open market.

The move won praises from both BCL Mine and Global Initiatives with the mine saying┬áthat┬á it had partnered┬áwith players “to extract value out of┬áits waste products”.

“This is a significant step for BCL in achieving its strategic theme of partnering with other players to extract value out of its waste,” BCL General Manager, Montwedi Mphathi, said.

“This is an important development for the Botswana economy in the sense that it will prolong the economic activity in this area for many years. Nickel will remain a significant export earner for Botswana and will provide jobs in this area through this project,” Makgekgenene said.

Selebi Phikwe and the surrounding areas have embarked on laying out plans that are aimed at increasing economic viability ahead of the end of the life-span of the mine.

Already SPEDU has been set up to spearhead the initiatives.
“Over the last few years, our group has acquired mining interests in Burundi, Namibia and Rwanda,” ┬áMakgekgenene added.

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