Government’s stake in the Mining Sector, particularly in mining and mineral processing companies is being transferred to state owned Mineral Development Company Botswana (MDCB) and the process is almost complete, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang has told parliament.
Mineral Development Company, MDCB (PTY) LTD is a company wholly owned by the Botswana Government. The mandate of MDCB is the effective management and optimization of the government mineral investment portfolio in the mining industry. Established in 2015, MDCB fully fleshed and resourced will manage all government shares in the lucrative mining sector. When delivering his Ministry Budget last week in parliament Kebonang said capacitating of the MDCB to fulfill its mandate was ongoing.
“An adequately capacitated MDCB will enable the company to effectively manage Government shareholding in mineral companies,” he said. The Lobatse youthful legislator told parliament that transactions for the transfer of assets from Government of Botswana to MDCB have been completed for Morupule Coal Mine, Debswana Investment SA and BCL.
“The process of transferring the remaining assets namely, Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB), Debswana Diamond Company and Botswana Ash have just started,” revealed Minister Kebonang.He further told parliament that the process was expected to be concluded during 2017.
Under the Mineral Development Company it is expected that managing the government’s mineral sector portfolio would be made easy and more effective as the government stake and interest will be in the hands of a private sector setup that understands the processes and technical knowhow of profit making assets management better. “Capacitating the company is also ongoing with a board in place, the Chief Executive Officer already appointed and recruiting of other staff to build a reputable mineral & mining assets management corporation is in good progress,” Kebonang told WeekendPost in an interview this week.
When it commenced operations MDCB immediately took over government shares in BCL, a move said to have been easy as Botswana Government was the largest shareholder with a controlling stake of over 90 %. Mid 2016 before the shocking news of BCL liquidation MDCB bought out Botswana-DeBeers joint venture Debswana Mining Company from Morupule Colliery Mine (MC).
According to ongoing plans theCorporation willsoon sit in a boardroom with Anglo American as it isreplacing government in Debswana Diamond Mining Company, one of the wealthiest mining companies in the world. The Government of Botswana owns a 50% stake in Debswana which owns Jwaneng Mine which is the world’s richest mine by value and Orapa Letlhakane & Damtshaa Mines. Orapa plant is the World’s largest diamond processing plant. Once the transfer of Shares is Complete MDCBwill also control Botswana’s 50% stake in Diamond Trading Company, Botswana Ash as well as 15% of Botswana Government in the De Beers Group.
Mineral Development Company Management
Reginah Sikalesele-Vaka is the Board Chairperson of Mineral Development Corporation. Vaka is a renowned financial expert and insurance industry guru and the founding Chief Executive of Bona Life, Botswana’s 1st citizen owned Life Insurance Company. Vaka is expected to guide the Botswana mineral sector lucrative ship to diversity and maximum beneficiation. Once MDCB holds all government shares in the mining sector the company is expected to transform the entire mineral sector and also make investments to create wealth and increase state revenues.
Other MDCB Board members include former State President Sir Ketumile Masire’s son Mmetla Masire. Masire, an environmental engineering guru by academic qualifications is currently also handling a task with a day to day job of transforming Botswana’s national water supplier, Water Utilities Corporation (WUC ) which is currently holding a record of one the most perennial loss making businesses in Botswana.
Vaka also sits with Sebetlela Sebetlela, one of Botswana’s renowned mining experts. Sebetlela currently is chairman of BPC board, he has literally captained all mining companies in Botswana, from Orapa, Tati to Jwaneng just to name a few.Other MDCB board members include MatomeTsholetsa, Country Manager for Joy Global Inc.
The Chief Executive Officer of MDCB is Paul Smith, a renowned mining sector profit maximizing guru with footprint across Africa. Smith made his name in South Africa’s lucrative Platinum mining sector. Last year, immediately after government acquired a 50 % stake of Morupule Colliery Mine, Smith allegedly got the ball rolling to mastermind the liquidation of Botswana’s oldest Mining Company, BCL. BCL was put under provisional liquidation on October 9th 2016.Smith, according to media publications is one of, if not the highest paid CEOs in Botswana alongside BPC Chief Executive Officer with over P100 000 as take home per month.
Minerals sector performance
According to Minister Kebonang the mining industry experienced a global commodity price downturn over most of the first two quarters of 2016, in mainly the base metals and energy minerals. However, diamond markets improved during the first quarter of 2016 and this resulted in actual sales exceeding production due to sale of inventory from the year 2015.
“Mineral revenue (dividends and royalties) for 2016 increased by 63% when compared to 2015. The average percentage contribution of minerals to GDP during second quarter of 2016 was 21.8% compared to 18.4% in 2015,” parliament heard last week. Debswana Diamond Company produced 20.9 million carats in 2016 compared to 20.4 million carats in 2015. Sales were 26.3 million carats compared to 14.7 million carats in 2015. Revenue from these sales was USD 3.9 billion and this compared favourably to USD 2.4 billion in 2015.
Kebonang also reported that Boteti Mining Company produced 307 thousand carats in 2016 compared to 377 thousand carats in 2015. “Boteti upgraded their processing plant, which enabled them to recover exceptionally large stones. Despite the volatile diamond markets, Boteti mine continue to perform well,” he said.
Ghaghoo Diamond Mine produced 20.6 thousand carats in 2016. Lerala Mine resumed production in April 2016 and has so far produced 58.5 thousand carats and so far made two sales. The performance of base metal mines continued to decline in 2016 due to depressed commodity prices.
Copper and nickel prices showed improvement from US$ 2.06/lb to US$ 2.65/lb for copper and US$ 3.80/lb to US$ 5.20/lb for nickel respectively from December 2015 to December 2016. However the prices remain a challenge for the marginal operations. BCL and Tati Nickel Mining Company were placed under provisional liquidation in October 2016 due to severe financial distress.
Kebonang is of the view that there are notable developments in the energy minerals sub-sector as companies continue to show interest in the energy minerals. “For instance, A-Cap Resources and African Energy Resources Botswana have acquired mining licenses for uranium at Sese and coal at Makomoto, respectively.”
Kebonang said MDCB will be looking to invest inorder to diversify government revenue within the mining sector to reduce dependence in the Diamond segment. Soda Ash and Salt sales were 288.5 thousand tonnes and 435 thousand tonnes respectively in 2016 compared to 258.9 thousand tonnes and 368.9 thousand tonnes for corresponding figures in 2015. Currently Production of soda ash and salt continues to be constrained by low off-take.
The Bulb World Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and entrepreneur, Ketshephaone Jacob has been selected as a 2021 Top 50 Africa’s Business Hero.
Jacob was chosen from a pool of 12,000 applicants – many of whom are highly-skilled and accomplished entrepreneurs.
Africa’s Business Hero, sponsored by technology entrepreneur, Jack Ma, aims to identify, support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their local communities, working to solve the most pressing problems, and building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future.
The initiative is as inclusive as possible and applications were open in English and French to entrepreneurs from all African countries, all sectors, and all ages who operate businesses formally registered and headquartered in an African country, and that have a 3 year-track record.
Every year, finalists are selected to compete in the ABH finale pitch competition and participate in a TV Show that will be broadcast online and across the continent.
The finalists will compete for a share of US $1.5 million in grant money.
The Bulb World, is home grown LED light manufacturing company, which was partly funded by Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) at the tune of P4 million, to manufacture LED lighting bulbs for both commercial and residential use in 2017.
The Bulb World operate from the Special Economic Zone of Selibe Phikwe. Early this year, The BulB World announced its expansion to South Africa, setting in motion its ambitious Africa expansion plan.
During the first quarter of 2021, production in Botswana’s economic nucleus- the mining sector contracted by 12 percent. This is according to Mining Production Index released by Statistics Botswana this week.
The country’s central data body revealed that Index of Mining production stood at 74.4 during the first quarter of 2021, showing a negative year on-year growth of 12.0 percent, from 84.6 registered during the first quarter of 2020.
The main contributor to the decline in mining production came from the Diamonds sector, which contributed negative 11.7 percentage points. Soda Ash was the only positive contributor in the mining production, contributing 0.1 of a percentage point. However Soda Ash’s contribution was insignificant to offset the negative contribution made by Diamonds.
The quarter-on-quarter analysis by Statistics Botswana experts shows an increase of 16.3 percent from the index of 64.0 during the fourth quarter of 2020 to 74.4 observed during the period under review.
Diamond production decreased by 12.1 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year. The decrease was as a result of planned strategy to align production with weaker trading conditions mostly linked to Covid-19 protocols restrictions.
Botswana’s diamond sector is underpinned by Debswana, the country’s flagship rough producer- a 50-50 joint venture between government and global mining giant De Beers Group. The other producer is Canadian based Lucara Diamond Corp through its wholly owned Karowe Mine which is a relatively small but significant production that has made a name for itself worldwide with rare diamond recoveries of unprecedented carat size.
On the other hand, quarter-on quarter analysis shows that production has improved, registering a positive growth of 17.5 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the preceding quarter – 2020 Q4.
Though production was significantly lower in the first quarter, the two producers ended Q2 with rare diamond recoveries. Debswana early last month found the world’s third largest gem diamond – weighing 1098 carat at Jwaneng Mine, its flagship gem quality diamonds producer, also regarded the world’s richest diamond mine.
A week later Lucara announced its second biggest recovery, the 1174 carat clivage near-gem dug from its Karowe Mine. The diamond is the world third in carat size after the plus-3000 carat Cullinan found in South Africa back in 1905 and the 1758 carat Sewelo unearthed at its Karowe mine in 2019. Debswana and Lucara are investing billions of pulas in underground mining projects to extend the life of its mines, Jwaneng & Karowe respectively.
In terms of Gold which is produced at Mupani mine near Botswana’s second city of Francistown output decreased by 17.9 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year.
Similarly, quarter-on-quarter analysis reflects that production decreased by 21.4 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the preceding quarter. The decrease was as a result of the deteriorating lifespan of the mine as well as the impact of COVID-19 which slowed down the mining activities.
Soda Ash production increased by 11.1 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year. In terms of quarter-on-quarter Soda Ash production also showed an increase, picking up by 2.1 percent during the period under review. The increase in production is attributable to the effectiveness of the plant following refurbishment which occurred in the third quarter of 2020.
Salt production decreased by 34.0 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Similarly, the quarter-on-quarter analysis shows that salt production registered a decrease of 32.9 percent during the period under review. Both salt and Sodash are produced by partly government owned Botswana Ash (BotsAsh) operating from Sowa town near Makgadikgadi pans.
Coal production decreased by 11.2 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year. The decrease was attributed to the reduced demand from Morupule B Power Station following the remedial works being undertaken, as one boiler was in operation during the period under review.
Although production fell, Statistics Botswana says there was no shortfall in supply of coal due to stockpiling. On the other hand, the quarter-on-quarter comparison shows that coal production increased by 20.4 percent compared to the preceding quarter.
Botswana’s flagship coal producer is Morupule Coal Mine; a wholly state owned mining company located in Palapye producing primarily for Botswana Power Corporation (BPC)’s power generation plants Morupule A & B.
The other coal producer is Botswana Stock Exchange listed Minergy which operates a 390 MT Coal Resource mine in Masama near Media in the southwestern edge of the Mmamabula Coalfields.
Department of Mines in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology & Energy Security has awarded mining licence to Tshukudu Metals-a subsidiary of Aussie firm Sandfire Resources ,giving the company a green light to start piecing the ground at its Motheo Copper Project near Gantsi.
Lefoko Moagi, minister in charge of mineral resources in Botswana confirmed to weekendpost on Tuesday. Minister Moagi revealed that “the licence has been approved , but Sandfire Resources as a listed company will report to its shareholders and investors then make an official public statement” he said.
Based on a forecast copper price of US$3.16/lb (reflecting current long-term consensus pricing) the Base Case 3.2Mtpa – Ghantsi copper project is forecast to generate US$664 million (over P7 billion) in pre-tax free cash-flow and US$987 million (over P10 billion) in EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation), at a forecast all-in sustaining cost of US$1.76/lb over its first 10 years of operations.
In December 2020, the Board of Sandfire Resources approved the commercial development of the Motheo Copper Mine located in the Kalahari Copper Belt in Botswana, marking a key step in its transformation into a global, diversified, and sustainable mining company.
Tshukudu Metals Botswana (Pty) Limited (Tshukudu) a 100% owned subsidiary will be the owner and operator of the Motheo Copper Mine which is scheduled to produce up to 30,000 tonnes per annum of copper in concentrate over a 12 year mine life.TMB is targeting development of its Motheo Copper Mine in 2021 and 2022, with its first production in 2023.
GOVERNMENT NOT TAKING UP 15 % STAKE ON OFFER
Beginning of this year presentations were made to the Department of Mines as part of the Mining Licence approval process and to the Ghanzi Regional Council, additional information was requested by Department of Mines in April and was duly supplied by the company.
As part of the Mining Licence approval process, the Government of Botswana has a right to acquire up to a 15% fully contributing interest in all mining projects locally. Quizzed on whether government through Mineral Development Corporation Botswana (MDCB) would be taking up stake in the project Minister Moagi said, “No consideration is being made on that regard”.
“Government is not considering taking up a stake in the Ghantsi Copper Mine project, every opportunity is assessed on all risks, but Government makes money all the while from leases, taxes and royalties, remember if you take stake you are liable for liabilities of the project as well,” Moagi said.
Last month Sandfire announced that it has awarded over P5 billion worth mining contract to African Mining Services (AMS), a subsidiary of Perenti, to deliver the open cast operation.
The contract, which has an estimated value of US$496 million (over 5 billion), is the largest single operational contract for the new Motheo Project covering a period of 7 years and 3 months, with provision for a one-year extension.
The contract according to Sandfire Resources was awarded following a competitive 3-stage tender process which saw a number of key factors taken into consideration when selecting the preferred contractor.
These included Citizen Economic Empowerment, safety culture, equipment suitability and availability, commercial terms and identified improvement opportunities. Under the terms of the contract, AMS has agreed to form a 70:30 Joint Venture with a suitable local Botswana partner or partners.
The JV is expected to be finalized ahead of commencement of mining in early 2022. African Mining Services has been operating in Africa for over 30 years. AMS’ parent company, ASX listed diversified mining services group Perenti, already has a presence in Botswana through Barminco, their underground mining division, at the large-scale Khoemacau Copper Mine located 200km north-east of Motheo.
Last month Sandfire executives said the award of the open pit mining contract represents another key milestone in advancing the Motheo Project towards production, with all components of the contract in line with the key parameters outlined in the December 2020 Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS).
The company said full-scale construction of the US$279 million (over P 3 billion ) mine development is expected to commence immediately upon receipt of the Mining Licence, with mining scheduled to commence in early 2022 ahead of first production in early 2023. This week Sandfire Resources advertised over 10 positions in calling on applications from geologists, mining engineers and geotechnical engineers.
The Motheo mine has an initial mine life of 12.5 years based on production from the T3 pit. The initial development is expected to generate approximately 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and 600 direct full-time jobs during operations, with at least 95% of the total mine workforce expected to be made of up of Botswana citizens.
Later in the week Sandfire Resources announced in the company website that it has received the licence. Sandfire’s Managing Director and CEO, Mr Karl Simich, said the award of the Mining Licence represented a major milestone that would see a significant increase in construction and development activities on site.
“We are absolutely delighted to now be in a position to move to full-scale construction at Motheo, with our construction crews expected to mobilise to site over the next few days. I would like to thank the Government of Botswana for their support throughout the approvals process, which will see Motheo come on-stream in 2023 as one of very few new copper mines commencing production globally.”
Simich said the project is expected to generate approximately 1,000 jobs during construction and 600 full-time jobs during operations, and represents the foundation for Sandfire’s long-term growth plans in Botswana.
“Our vision is that Motheo will form the centre of a new, long-life copper production hub in in the central portion of the world-class Kalahari Copper Belt, where we hold an extensive ground-holding spanning Botswana and Namibia,” he said.