The Kenyan delegation that came to Botswana this week was told that there are opportunities in the country’s mining industry from funding to beneficiation. The East African giant’s economy recently announced the discovery of oil and the mission in the diamond rich nation admitted it can learn from Botswana how to exploit mineral resources.
When presenting at the Kenya Business Forum, Botswana Chamber of Mines CEO, Charles Siwawa said the role played by mining in Botswana’s economy cannot be over emphasized.
“The reason why this economy grows is because of diamonds,” Siwawa said. “There has been talk that we will see a cliff in 2030. That notion has been dispelled; we will continue to see diamonds play a major role”.
The country has of recent seen a rise in exploration taking place outside diamonds and there has been a massive coal rush as exploration companies’ scour for coal reserves, estimated at 200 billion tonnes. Siwawa said coal can be used in many formats as it can be washed to make it cleaner and exported to the markets in India and China.
He advised the Kenya delegation that coal can also be converted into liquids like petrol and diesel.
“It is capital intensive, but the rewards are there,” he said, adding that already there is a company which has been producing liquids for over a decade in South Africa.
“There is really an opportunity to invest there, but rewards are long term”.
He advised that there are other opportunities in exploration, production of minerals and beneficiation as is the case with copper where companies can create refineries and iron ore, where iron can be smelted. Siwawa advised the delegation that they can also decide to invest in peripheral activities like supply chain, for example supplying ingredients for smelting. He however warned that mining is not a small game as it needs lots of capital.
“We are very small population in relation to Kenya. With all these mines, we can have skills shortage, and as Kenya you can come with your institutions and have close ties with mining entities,” he said.
He added that the new route ploughed by Kenya Airways to Botswana will also enable better trade relations between the two countries.
The Botswana Chamber of Mines is privately run and takes the interest of mining companies at heart. The association is affiliated to Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM), a local body representing over 1000 employers in the country. It is also affiliated to SADC Regional Chamber of Mines and has links to International Mining and Metals.
For his part, Kenya Investment Authority Manager-Investor Service, Rogers Amisi said they were in Botswana to see how the diamond rich nation exploits its mineral resource.
“In terms of mining, we have a lot to learn from Botswana. We have discovered oil and it is commercial to mine. Unless we learn, we will become like other countries with lots of resources, but no benefits,” he said.