FRANCISTOWN – The Managing Director of Okavango Diamond Company (ODC), Marcus ter Haar says there is no need for the country’s business community to panic over Botswana’s dwindling mining fortunes.
He says the country still has some minerals to exploit and explore especially diamonds for its economic benefits.
ODC is a rough diamond marketing company that is wholly owned by the Botswana Government. The company offers global customer base open access to scale supply of the full range of rough diamonds sourced from Botswana. The company has access to 15% of Debswana’s run-of-mine production and supplies its market with sales in the region of $500 million per annum.
Speaking during the Business Botswana Northern Trade Fair in Francistown last week te Haar said the business sector should take into cognition the fact that the mining sector still holds the key to Botswana’s economic achievements and success.
“There have been challenges after the closure of the likes of BCL and Tati Nickel Mine. People have lost hope and focus on mining and are not seeing what value it is generating. My message to you is that, there is so much happening in the mining space,” he said.
ter Haar gave example of Debswana and explained that the diamond mining giant employs over 5 000 people making it one of the largest employers after Botswana government. He also said that 80 percent of procurement by Debswana which is a 4 billion dollar company is done in the country adding value to the economy.
“Debswana is also the second largest producer of diamonds in the world. I know that diamond mining will someday reach its mine life but not any time soon. The feasibility study shows that there is still 20 years of diamond mining,” he said.
Among other important issues he said that although there are new growing international markets in countries such as, China and India for diamonds, Africa has one of the biggest potential markets going forward for Botswana’s diamond mining industry to take advantage of.
“You should not give up yet on mining. The best concept is to Exploit and explore; this is perhaps the reason why Botswana has done well in its diamond mining expedition by getting the value from diamonds and investing in new ideas by exploiting and exploring It has done well on issues such as investing in human capital. The government used the revenue from diamonds into bringing about cutting and polishing of diamonds. Botswana is one of the few countries benefiting immensely from the diamond mining value chain,” he said.
He also encouraged the business community to take advantage of tourism as it offers many opportunities such as eco-tourism, food tourism, wellness tourism and experiential tourism. Ter Haar who also sits in the Wilderness Safaris Board, a tourism company said this organization is already exploiting opportunities in this sector. Ter Haar also sits in the Lady Khama Charitable Trust and the Diamond Empowerment Fund.