Botswana’s has ended the previous year with a huge trade surplus in over sixteen years despite a weaker fourth quarter ended in deficit. The weak performance in December was underpinned by a 29.8 percent decrease in total exports. This information is contained in the latest International Merchandise Trade Statistics for December released by Statistics Botswana.
According to the monthly report, the total imports for December were valued at P5.175 billion, showing a decrease of 11.4 percent (P664.8 million) from the revised November 2016 value of P5.8 billion. The decrease was mainly influenced by Machinery & Electrical Equipment which decreased by 22.1 percent (P204.2 million) from P922.6 million in November 2016 to P718.4 million in December.
Other commodity groups that contributed significantly towards the decrease were Food, Beverages & Tobacco with a decrease of 22.6 percent (P181.5 million) from P804.0 million to P622.5 million and Chemicals & Rubber Products with a decrease of 16.6 percent (P92.1 million) from P555.7 million to P463.6 million during the periods under consideration.
Comparison of import figures for December 2016 and December 2015 shows a decrease of 19.2 percent (P1.2 billion), from P6.4 billion recorded during December 2015 to P5.175 billion recorded during the month under review. The decrease was mainly due to the 29.9 percent (P703.2 million) decrease in the import value of diamonds, from P2.3 billion during December 2015 to P1.6 billion in December 2016.
The total exports were valued at P5.151 billion, showing a decrease of 29.8 percent (P2.2 billion) from the November 2016 revised value of P7.3 billion. This decrease was mainly due to a decline of 29.2 percent (P1.96 billion) in diamond exports, from P6.7 billion in November 2016 to P4.7 billion in December 2016
The total exports value for the period under review, compared to that of December 2015 shows a decrease of 2.8 percent (P146.7 million) from P5.2 billion recorded during December 2015 to P5.151 billion recorded during December 2016. The decrease is mainly attributed to the fall in exports of Copper & Nickel, which dropped by 99.8 percent (P406.9 million) from P407.5 million in December 2015 to P0.6 million during the period under review. The decline in Copper & Nickel is due to the closure of the main mine producing these minerals in October 2016. Copper & Nickel group includes products of the two minerals and the P0.6 million is the value for Copper waste & Scrap.
The weak performance in December accentuated what was already a weak quarter to deliver the first quarterly trade deficit of 2016. Figures show that the country recorded a trade surplus in the last three quarters. However the fourth quarter opened with a massive P2.5 billion trade deficit in October. This was later followed by soft recovery in November after recording P1.4 billion in trade surplus. For the month under review, the country recorded a trade deficit of P24 million to end the fourth quarter down with a P1.1 billion trade deficit.
A trade deficit was widely expected in the fourth quarter following major developments that included the government’s decision to shut down the BCL group operations. The decision to close the mines in October wiped hundreds of millions from the economy. In the previous trade report, Copper and Nickel contributed about 2% to the total exports.
Despite the slump in the fourth quarter of 2016, Botswana finished the year strongly with a trade surplus of P13.4 billion, a stark reversal from the P9.7 billion trade deficit recorded in 2015. This is the largest yearly trade surplus in over sixteen years. Botswana’s rough-diamond exports bounced back last year after a plunge in 2015, helping the country return to economic growth. The nation shipped about P40 billion of rough diamonds in 2016, a jump of 54 percent, according to the Bank of Botswana.
Fourth-quarter diamond exports leapt to P4.5 billion, making 92% of total exports. In 2015, orders dived 34 percent because of a slump in demand due to oversupply of polished and inflated rough prices. This dented the performance of Botswana focused miners such as De Beers, whose sales fell 36 percent that year. Botswana’s total exports, of which 83 percent are diamonds, grew by an estimated 26.4 percent in 2016, mainly as a result of the recovery in the diamond market.
Earlier this year when giving the budget speech, Mr. Kenneth Mathambo, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, said that the domestic economy contracted by 1.7 percent in 2015, compared to a positive growth rate of 4.1 percent recorded in 2014. This negative growth was mainly due to weak performance of the mining sector, as a result of the reduction in diamond and copper production by 15.6 percent and 35 percent, respectively, during the year. The non-mining sectors also registered a lower growth of1.7 percent in 2015 compared to 4.9 percent in 2014, reflecting the impact of water and electricity disruptions on the rest of the economy.
“The outlook for 2016 is however positive, with the domestic economy expected to recover and record a growth rate of 2.9 percent for the year, and forecast to reach 4.2 percent in 2017. The optimistic outlook is based on the anticipated slight improvement in the mining sector, and positive growth prospects for the non-mining sectors,” the minister added.
Botswana has recorded its first trade surplus for 2021 since the only one for the year in January.
The country’s exports for the month of July surpassed the value of imports, Statistics Botswana’s July International Merchandise Trade data reveals.
Released last Friday, the monthly trade digest reports a positive jump in the trade balance graph against the backdrop of a series of trade deficits in the preceding months since January this year.
According to the country’s significant data body, imports for the month were valued at P7.232 billion, reflecting a decline of 6.6 percent from the revised June 2021 value of P7.739 billion.
Total exports during the same month amounted to P7.605 billion, showing an increase of 6.1 percent over the revised June 2021 value of P7.170 billion.
A trade surplus of P373.2 million was recorded in July 2021. This follows a revised trade deficit of P568.7 million for June 2021.
For the total exports value of P7.605 billion, the Diamonds group accounted for 91.2 percent (P6.936 billion), followed by Machinery & Electrical Equipment and Salt & Soda Ash with 2.2 percent (P169.7 million) and 1.3 percent (P100.9 million) respectively.
Asia was the leading destination for Botswana exports, receiving 65.2 percent (P4.96 billion) of total exports during July 2021.
These exports mostly went to the UAE and India, having received 26.3 percent (P1. 99 billion) and 18.7 percent (P1.422 billion) of total exports, respectively. The top most exported commodity to the regional block was Diamonds.
Exports destined to the European Union amounted to P1.64 billion, accounting for 21.6 percent of total exports.
Belgium received almost all exports destined to the regional union, acquiring 21.5 percent (P1.6337 billion) of total exports during the reporting period.
The Diamonds group was the leading commodity group exported to the EU. The SACU region received exports valued at P790.7 million, representing 10.4 percent of total exports.
Diamonds and Salt & Soda Ash commodity groups accounted for 37.8 percent (P298.6 million) and 6.2 percent (P48.7 million) of total exports to the customs union.
South Africa received 9.8 percent (P745.0 million) of total exports during the month under review. The Diamonds group contributed 39.9 percent (P297.4 million) to all goods destined for the country.
In terms of imports, the SACU region contributed 62.7 percent (P4.534 billion) to total imports during July.
The topmost imported commodity groups from the SACU region were Fuel; Food, Beverages & Tobacco, and Machinery & Electrical Equipment with contributions of 33.3 percent (P1.510 billion), 17.4 percent (P789.4 million) and 12.7 percent (P576.7 million) to total imports from the region, respectively.
South Africa contributed 60.1 percent (P4.3497 billion) to total imports during July 2021.
Fuel accounted for 32.1 percent (P1.394 billion) of imports from that country. Food, Beverages & Tobacco contributed 17.7 percent (P772.0 million) to imports from South Africa.
Namibia contributed 2.0 percent (P141.1 million) to the overall imports during the period under review. Fuel was the main commodity imported from that country at 82.1 percent (P115.8 million).
During the months, imports representing 63.5 percent (P4.5904 billion) were transported into the country by Road.
Transportation of imports by Rail and Air accounted for 22.7 percent (P1.645 billion) and 13.8 percent (P996.2 million), respectively.
During the month, goods exported by Air amounted to P6, 999.2 million, accounting for 92.0 percent of total exports, while those leaving the country by Road were valued at P594.2 million (7.8 percent).
Founders from twenty companies have been accepted into the program from Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa
The 4th Cohort of the Stanford Seed Transformation Program – Southern Africa (STP), a collaboration between Stanford Graduate School of Business and De Beers Group commenced classes on 20 September 2021. According to Otsile Mabeo, Vice President Corporate Affairs, De Beers Global Sightholder Sales: “We are excited to confirm that 20 companies have been accepted into the 4th Seed Transformation Programme from Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. The STP is an important part of the De Beers Group Building Forever sustainability strategy and demonstrates our commitment to the ‘Partnering for Thriving Communities’ pillar that aims at enhancing enterprise development in countries where we operate in the Southern African region”. Jeffrey Prickett, Global Director of Stanford Seed: “Business owners and their key management team members undertake a 12-month intensive leadership program that includes sessions on strategy and finance, business ethics, and design thinking, all taught by world-renowned Stanford faculty and local business practitioners. The program is exclusively for business owners and teams of for-profit companies or for-profit social enterprises with annual company revenues of US$300,000 – US$15million.” The programme will be delivered fully virtually to comply with COVID 19 protocols. Out of the 20 companies, 6 are from Botswana, 1 Namibia, and 13 South Africa. Since the partnership’s inception, De Beers Group and Stanford Seed have supported 74 companies, 89 founders/CEOs, and approximately 750 senior-level managers to undertake the program in Southern Africa.
Minergy, the coal mining and trading company with the Masama coal mine, this week released results for the year ended 30 June 2021. The company achieved revenue of P193 million (2020: P81 million) with significant improvement in sales volumes surpassing 415 000 tonnes sold for the year.
The performance was divided into two distinct periods with very different operating environments. The first eight-month period (July 2020 – February 2021), was negatively impacted by delayed funding, COVID-19 impacts and excessive rain; and the last four-month period (March – June 2021), was a more stable production environment moving toward nameplate capacity.
According to Minergy CEO, Morné du Plessis, production and sales initially recovered in July and August 2020 with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and recoveries were further bolstered by the successful launch of the rail siding. Delays experienced in concluding the funding contributed to contractors limiting operations to manage arrears.
“However, the heavy rains we experienced from December 2020 through February 2021 flooded the mine pit making access difficult and impacting both production and sales. Fortunately, the rain subsided in March 2021, and we entered a more stable environment, with a positive impact on operations. Good recoveries in production and sales were experienced during the last four-month period of the year, with the mine moving closer toward a breakeven position.”
“Despite these operational constraints, including the effects of COVID-19 on logistics and manning of shifts, we expect to reach consistent nameplate capacity in the 2022 financial year,” du Plessis added.
In addition to the revenue reported above, the company incurred costs of sales of P256 million (2020: P150 million) with operating costs of P23 million (2020: P31 million). This effectively resulted in an operating loss of P86 million (2020: P100 million). Finance costs of P51 million (2020: P17 million) were incurred, bringing the net loss before taxation to P136 million (2020: P117 million).
Du Plessis explains that the adverse conditions in the first eight-month period contributed to 86% of the gross loss, while the more stable four-month period alone contributed to 50% of total sales value, helping to decrease monthly gross losses, albeit below breakeven levels.
The company benefited from a strengthening in the South African Rand (“ZAR”) supporting higher back-on- mine sales prices.
“As announced, we’re pleased to have secured P125 million of additional convertible debt funding through the Minerals Development Company Botswana (Proprietary) Limited (“MDCB”). Minergy remains grateful for this support.”
He added that the first tranche of additional funding provided by the MDCB had been received in December 2020, which allowed Minergy to settle the majority of the contractor’s arrears and allowed their teams to be remobilised. The second and final tranche was paid post the financial year-end and will allow the business to reach nameplate capacity in the new financial year.”
COAL SALES AND MINE PERFORMANCE
Sales volumes increased by 110%, supported by increased sales in Botswana and internationally in South Africa and Namibia. Sales for June 2021 exceeded 56 000 tonnes, a record since the inception of the mine, with pricing increasing late in the financial year on the back of buoyant international prices and a strengthening ZAR.
Minergy also concluded a further 12-month off-take agreement to the existing off-take agreement, with a further agreement finalised post year end.
Overburden moved during the reporting period increased by 86% and extracted coal by 50%. Coal mined in June 2021 alone exceeded 100 000 tonnes. “This is a good performance considering the challenges faced such as sacrificing pre-stripping activities for a period to manage arrears, excessive rain and COVID-19,” du Plessis indicated.
“The wash plant was initially starved of coal due to the factors noted already. Despite this, overall plant throughput performance was 37% higher than 2020. Consistent output was supported by the completion of the Stage 2 rigid crushing section as well as the water saving dewatering screen with filter press contributing to a reduction in water usage of 60% per tonne of coal. A record throughput of more than 84 000 tonnes was achieved in March 2021 and this consistency has been maintained.”
According to du Plessis, the completion of Stage 4 of the Processing Plant, the rigid screening and stock handling section, remains a key optimisation step, which has associated benefits. “The completion was unfortunately delayed by a southern African wide shortage of structural steel but was commissioned post year-end.”
Minergy expects the positive momentum in international coal pricing for southern African coal to remain in place. Higher coal prices have resulted in coal being withdrawn from the inland market in favour of lucrative international markets. Du Plessis added that the regional market is currently under- supplied with sized coal, which supports higher pricing and new customer opportunities for Minergy.
“Our objective for the 2022 financial year is to achieve nameplate capacity by completing final ramp-up of operations. This will enable the company to generate sufficient cash flow to stabilise the business at breakeven or better. The bullish coal market is also providing support. COVID-19 will still be closely managed, and we look forward to the lifting of the State of Emergency, as announced, and trust that vaccination programmes will achieve herd immunity in Botswana during the next 12 months.”
Du Plessis expressed his excitement on prospects stating that, “The Eskom due diligence process is continuing, and we are hopeful of receiving feedback during the current financial year. In addition to this opportunity, Minergy is also investigating participation in the request by the Government of Botswana to provide a 300MW power station for which the company has been shortlisted.”
The approved process to issue shares for cash is showing positive leads and he concluded by saying that a listing in London is still being investigated.