Saturday, September 25, 2021

Mines abandon exploration as revenue falls

Apart from the job losses bedevilling the mining sector in Botswana, the depressed global commodity prices is said to have also constrained future mineral exploration in the country. Minister responsible for minerals, Kitso Mokaila said Monday that minerals exploration expenditure as well as other mining activities relating to finding new minerals have been cut down. 

“Beyond the job losses, the current situation has also constrained mineral exploration expenditure and activities on the ground, thus compromising the ability to make any new mineral findings.” Mokaila told parliament on Monday. 

However Mokaila said efforts have been directed toward avoiding or minimising job losses in the sector, which has already reported thousands of job losses. The mining sector is expected to shed thousands of jobs in a massive haemorrhage that runs across the sector, from copper to diamonds. The hardest hit so far could be Selebi Phikwe based, BCL which is expected to cut as many as 2,000 of its 6,000 strong employees as it streamlines operations in the face of weak copper prices, currently at six-year lows.  

Mokaila told parliament on Monday that the state owned company will be bailed out.

 “It is for this reason that my Ministry and that of Finance and Development Planning are tirelessly working on assisting BCL Limited and Tati Nickel Mining Company to overcome challenges they are facing,” he said.

Over 500 employees of Moolman Mining Botswana, a company that was contracted by Tati Nickel Mining Company (TNMC) to do excavation work, lost their jobs as the company closed its operations in mid February. Another government owned commodity entity, Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB) was on Friday reported to have kick started a massive retrenchment exercise in with a number of top executives reportedly lost their jobs. Cliff diving commodity prices crippled most metal producers in the country as many are under provisional liquidation. African Copper, which has two operations at Mowana near Dukwi and Thakadu near Matsitama, is amongst those under provisional liquidation and its 543 employees have been left in limbo. Another Copper miner, Discovery Metals Limited was liquidated in February 2015 and had to retrench 538 employees before closure.

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