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Base metals to add silver lining to mining industry

Publishing Date : 12 June, 2018


It appears there is light at end of the tunnel in the mining sector (base metals) as Botswana moves to dilute the dominance of the traditional diamond subsector. Mining is Botswana’s largest sector by revenue generation and the country’s largest private employer.

In the 2017/18 financial year Government collected over 17 billion pula from royalties and dividends while by March 2018 over 16 000 people were employed in the mining industry. The sector will remain the country’s economic anchor for more decades to come amid the economic diversification wave. This is because the mining sector is currently moving rigorously to diversity within itself as much as the nation is on an accelerated move to diversify economic activities away from mining.  

Since the beginning of diamonds mining in the 1970s, the multibillion pula sector has been dominating mineral contribution to the country’s economy.  The country has learnt it the hard way when over 10 000 direct and indirect jobs were lost in the copper mining industry from 2012 until 2016. But there is hope, experts this week pointed to the potential of the non-diamond mining industry at the annual Botswana Resource Sector Conference held in Gaborone.

The conference brought together leading mining and resources companies doing prospecting and exploration for different mineral deposits in Botswana. It emerged at the gathering that Botswana sits on a vast of economical mineralization and most valuable high grade deposits in the world. Apart from the traditional Copper-Nickel and Coal which has been complementing the lucrative diamonds sector for some years, it was also revealed that Botswana soils are also covering reserves of some of the most valuable industrial minerals.

These include among others Lead, Zinc, silver, vanadium and manganese deposits which exploration experts classify as some of the world‘s high grade reserves. When laying the foundation at the highly technical conference, Botswana Chamber of Mines Chief Executive Officer, Charles Siwawa noted that it was indeed not even over yet for controversial industries like the copper-nickel which faced a halt 2 years back due to predominantly depreciation of global commodity prices. Botswana‘s largest copper and nickel mining group BCL limited liquidated late 2016 following a series of closures of other copper mining companies.

Siwawa, an internationally recognized and seasoned mining expert told attendants at the conference that in the near future Botswana will bounce back and be recognized with the likes of DRC s and Zambias of the global copper mining industry. Meanwhile Charles Siwawa of Botswana Chamber of Mines Chief expressed that in the near future  the world would look to Botswana not just for the lucrative diamonds but also for these valuable metal minerals which are mostly used for industrial purposes .

“While copper mines which initially closed due to liquidation are opening because of commodity price re-bounce, no one should undermine these aforementioned base metal deposits , these are world class reserves , your lead , Zinc and Silver , they are Botswana ‘s future of Mining industry,” he said . Siwawa noted that these metals mineralization exists in high grade deposits that would compete very well in the market for industrial uptake in global factories and heavy processing & hardware manufacturing plants.

Commenting on Siwawa’s views, Khemacau Copper Project Engineer and Country Manager, Jahannes Tsimako noted that his company was in good progress to unearth one of the valuable copper deposits in the region. Khoemacau is one of the companies exploring and moving to mine copper and other base metals in the Kalahari Copper Belt with one of their major mines being the Bosetu Mine, the company acquired the mine from Discovery Copper Botswana at a tune of $34.5 m (P343million) after the mine collapsed in 2013.

In 2016 Khoemacau was granted a mining license with Botswana Government retaining its 15 % participating interest in the Mine. Khoemacau started constructing the underground mine in March 2016. Boseto Mine is located in northwest of the country between Ghanzi, 70 km southwest of Maun. The mine is expected to produce copper and silver, on full scale operation hiring an excess of 2000 direct and indirect employees. Tsimako revealed that his company expects to mine sellable copper by first quarter of 2020.

Another major undertaking in the Kalahari Copper Belt is advanced explorations by Tshukudu Metals a subsidiary of Metal Tiger, the latter is one of the world’s reputable companies in the area of mining base metals. Kebalemogile Tau, Explorations Manager at the Ghandzi Based Tshukudu Metals enticed attendants and spoke life to the country’s future in Mining. The company is also at advanced explorations of the copper in the Kalahari belt.

Tau underscored that Botswana had a great future in Base metal mining. “The Kalahari Copper belt will give us long profitable mines with life span of 20-30 years employing thousands of our skilled and non-skilled personnel,” he said. Nigel Forrester, Chief Executive Officer of Mount Burgess Mining also revealed that his company was also on the final stages in prospecting Zinc Lead and Silver as well as Vanadium mineralization at its Kihabe reserves whose deposits spill over into Namibia. Forrester explained that his company explorations will output one of the world valuable lead and Silver mineralization.



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