Times maybe uncertain in this Covid-19 era, but one thing not to be missed is the annual Mining Indaba, the African mining industry’s major conference that usually takes place in Cape Town, South Africa.
The organizers of this largely attended conference, Investing in Africa Mining Indaba, have planned to host this event through virtual platform, where Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi will give a presidential keynote address.
Masisi will be joining the already confirmed Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone, at the Mining Indaba Virtual which will be held next week (2-3 February 2021).
Under the theme resilience and regrowth: adopting the new mindset for African Mining, Masisi is expected to address Botswana’s mining sector development including: progress on production and volumes in diamonds, gold, copper, coal, and iron ore; new diamond and copper licensing opportunities for explorers and junior miners; developments of infrastructure in Botswana’s Western corridor to stimulate international investment; and safeguarding investors through transparency and sustainable fiscal regimes.
Mining Indaba which has been taking place for the past 27 years, places Botswana in a better place to continue marketing its precious stones which are the biggest contributor to gross domestic product (GDP). The country’s minerals contribute almost 80 percent of the country’s export earnings.
The latest GDP figures of Q3 2020 from Statistics Botswana presented a decline in the real value added of Mining by 15.2 percent mainly influenced by Diamond and Soda Ash real value added. Diamond production in carats went down by 15.3 percent while Soda Ash production in tonnes decreased by 53.1 percent. The poor performance of the diamond sub industry is attributed to the reduction in the production due to weak demand from global markets. Diamonds are luxury goods and therefore are bound to fluctuate due to the appetite of reliable customers as the world is highly affected by the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Mineral producers predict that the time it will take for global production to return to pre-COVID-19 levels of operating capacity will depend heavily on the pace of economic recovery, the impact of potential lockdowns in the future and the growth of consumer demand.
In the past, mining companies simply had to plan their production on the basis of “highest volumes at the lowest production cost” to keep stakeholders happy.
The mining industry is facing new challenges. The rapidly-spreading coronavirus pandemic has squashed diamond miners’ dawning hopes of a recovery in a sector that has been severely hit by weak prices and demand since late 2018.
Taking the De Beers Group situation into account, the world’s largest diamond producers the year 2019 finished on a positive trajectory for diamond jewellery demand in the main consumer markets; however, the severe impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and the second wave of lockdowns in quarter four of the 2020 have since put a strain on consumer sentiment and spending power.
The longer-term outlook for global production levels may fall if more mines are permanently closed this year as a result of the challenging market conditions due to the pandemic.
In 2018, Botswana was the world’s second largest diamond producer by value and volume; however, there are significant investment opportunities in expansion and development of the country’s coal, coal bed methane, uranium, gold and silver as well.
The country is currently looking to expand its renewable energy generation up to 15 percent by the end of this decade.