Saturday, September 23, 2023

Moagi warns against scramble for Africa minerals

When the world’s largest mining investment conference concluded this week, Botswana’s Minerals and Energy minister Lefoko Moagi’s warning against the great rush for African minerals reverberated through newspaper headlines.

Moagi, who was part of Botswana’s delegation to Mining Indaba, the conference that attracts the movers and shakers in the mining industry, warned African states to be vigilant of risks that come with the rising interest in the continent’s minerals, driven by demand for cleaner energies which include the use of electric vehicles that require some metals that are in abundance in Africa.

“When there is a rush, people come in, take whatever they want to take, and go, leaving gaping holes in Africa,” Moagi said in an interview with leading news agency Reuters.

“If you want to push production because there is money that is being dangled, you start compromising on how you legislate, how you do your environmental permitting, how you consult your communities. There is a great danger there that Africa must watch out for,” said the minister.

Botswana, rated as a top mining jurisdiction, has attracted a flurry of foreign mining explorers, mostly in search of copper at the 14,875 square kilometres Kalahari Copper Belt (KCB), an area that extends for over 800km of strike and contains multiple recent copper-silver discoveries. The deposits in the belt are generally blanketed by Kalahari sands, ranging from 2-60m in thicknesses which have kept them hidden from discovery until recent times.

Already, Khoemacau Copper mine, which is backed by US private equity firm Cupric Canyon, has begun production and sales. The Australian mining company Sandfire, owners of the Motheo copper mine, recently announced that production is expected to ramp-up from the June 2023 quarter.

Galileo Resources Plc, a mining explorer listed on London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM), has 21 exploration prospecting licences, of which 19 are in the highly prospective KCB. Another London based mining explorer, Kavango Resources Plc, and Cobre, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), have also reported on strong copper mineralization their exploration sites.

Canada’s Premium Nickel Resources Ltd (PNRL) which acquired the liquidated BCL mines are working around the clock to bring the mines to life, both in Selebi Phikwe and Tati.

Other Canadian companies include; Power Metal Resources PLC, searching for copper and nickel at its Molopo Farms Complex Project; Giyani Metals Corp, the developer of the K.Hill manganese oxide project.

Other mining companies in Botswana that are not involved in metals and diamonds, include Canada’s Reconnaissance Energy Africa Ltd which is exploring for oil in northwestern Botswana, occupying a large portion of the eastern part of the entire Kavango basin. Australian coal explorer Minergy started production at its Masama mine in 2019 and is going strong, thanks to surge in coal prices. Tlou Energy, another Australian company, is exploring for gas at its Lesedi Power Project.

In February 2022, Botswana’s parliament approved minerals policy, seeking to enhance the domestic economic benefit from minerals development through beneficiation and local value addition activities.

Finance minister, Peggy Serame, on Monday during the budget speech said government was in the process of reviewing the Mines and Minerals Act, which deals with granting of licenses for mineral prospecting and exploration as well as for mining operations. The proposed amendments will include provisions for local beneficiation of minerals and meeting local needs for mining products.


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