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Selibe Phikwe could house Botswana Oil Coal Liquefaction Plant

Selibe Phikwe might be considered for the multibillion pula Coal Liquefaction Project (CLP) by Botswana Oil Limited, Acting Minister in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Nonofo Molefhi had told Parliament.


Minister Molefhi was addressing a question tabled by Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse, who wanted parliament to be updated on the progress of the much anticipated coal-to-liquids project, what it entails, the current stage of project implementation and timelines as well as projected employment opportunities to be created by the  billion dollar petroleum end product undertaking.


The youthful Selibe Phikwe lawmaker also wanted to know the prospects of Selibe Phikwe being considered for housing the plant as part of the town’s resuscitation and economic recovery undertakings after the sudden demise of BCL mine late last year, which resulted in thousand job losses.


In response, Molefhi who was standing in  for Minister Sadique Kebonang, who was reported to be abroad on BCL acquisition matters, told parliament  that the Ministry of was currently going through proposals from interested petroleum companies from the private sector who put forth expressions to develop a Coal-to-Liquids (CTL) Plant. The plant is expected to convert Botswana ‘s abundant tones of coal to petroleum fluids.


“Mr Speaker, my Ministry is inundated with requests and proposals from the private sector to develop Coal to Liquids plant (CTL) in Botswana together with Botswana Oil Limited (BOL)” Molefhi said, explaining that their interest was to have Botswana Oil Limited as the anchor customer of their petroleum products.


“As you are aware, Botswana imports all her petroleum requirements (approximately 1.2 billion liters per year) from the Republic of South Africa with small quantities coming from Namibia and Mozambique” he noted. It is believed that the development of the CTL plant will go a long way in ensuring that Botswana becomes fuel self-sufficient with further potential of being a net exporter of petroleum products in Southern Africa and the African region.

 

Reports from parliament indicate that the coal to liquids projects require substantial investment; it is estimated that the plant which would meet Botswana’s current annual demand of 1.2 billion of petroleum products could costs between US $ 3 – 4 billion (P40 billion) over a four (4) to five (5) year construction period.


According to Minister Molefhi although the Government recognizes the importance of the project as well as its potential turn around to economic diversification efforts, the Selibe Phikwe East Lawmaker observes that it will however be very expensive for the state to develop the plant alone. “Though this would replace the current importation of approximately one billion liters of petroleum products annually, the expenditure will be too high for Government under the current financial pressures to bear” he said.


Molefhi also added that currently government through the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security is readying itself for assessment processes in which it will screen and come up with qualified private companies to partner with Botswana Oil Limited: “As things stand, my Ministry has developed a Pre-Qualification criteria which will be used to select companies that can be facilitated in order to realize the project. The Pre-Qualification Notice will be in the media platforms soon” He said.


The Acting Minister noted that the project will be a private sector led investment, with Government’s role limited to being that of facilitator. “Botswana Oil Limited as a company mandated to ensure Botswana‘s petroleum self sufficiency is engaging experts in the field to provide Technical Advisory Services to Botswana Government.” He revealed that currently the project was at concept stage with no detailed studies conducted as yet.


“The project schedule and timelines will become realistic once consultants are on the ground and that of course is being planned for end of this month, the private sector also continues to explore avenues of implementing the project’” Said Molefhi.


PROSPECTS OF THE CTL PLANT BEING SET UP IN PHIKWE


Following the placing of Bamangwato Concessions Limited (BCL) under provisional liquidation, Botswana government has devised economic recovery strategies to revitalize the town and the entire Region which used to be lively before the demise of its economic engine, BCL mine.


Selibe Phikwe West Member of Parliament, Dithapelo Keorapetse wants government and Botswana Oil to facilitate the Coal-to Liquids plant towards being built in Phikwe, a project he explains will make a permanent economic turnaround in the town and the entire SPEDU region. When posing a supplementary question after Minister Molefhi‘s description of the project in parliament last week “Thank you Honourable Minister.

 

I just wanted to find out from you, in light of what you have said about the cost of the project, whether you are working with any multilateral or bilateral development partners in that regard? Also concerning Selibe Phikwe, don’t you think that this is a project in which Selibe Phikwe must be given priority given the recent placement of BCL under provisional liquidation?”


In response however, Minister Molefhi, who is also an MP for Selebi Phikwe East,  noted that the location of the project will depend largely on the feasibility studies by consultants and potential investors. He added that the availability of resources and accessibility of raw materials being coal, will influence the decision of plant location.


 “The location of the CTL plant will be greatly influenced by the availability of raw materials, the distance from the plant will be critical, of course that will also take into consideration lowering of costs of production to ensure that they are manageable. My Ministry through Botswana Oil Company will work closely with the private sector and other sectors of Government to ensure that the project addresses the current challenges and facilitate the investment by the private sector” he explained.


Molefhi stipulated that considering the situation in Selibe Phikwe after closure of BCL mine, the shortlisted investors will have the discretion to decide on the location of the plant, “The consultants will manage the guideline and the framework which has been designed for the selection and the short listing of potential investors.

 

The decision on the location of the plant is a decision to be made by the investors. Taking into account what is also available for Selibe Phikwe as incentive packages, Government would soon be announcing the extent of packages and that is designed to motivate people to consider Selibe Phikwe as an investment zone”.


Since location of the project will also be influenced by the cost benefit analysis, if it is found that locating project in Selibe Phikwe away from where the abundance of the resources are (Palapye), can be accommodated, at that point a decision would be made by the investors and of course they will take into consideration the incentive packages which Government would extend or has decided to extend to Selibe Phikwe as a  Special Economic Zone


When speaking to WeekendPost this past week, Keorapetse added that since structures and mechanism is already in place, which transported coal from Morupule to BCL mine, the same infrastructure can be sourced and used, if the plant is in Selibe Phikwe.
“Since government is somewhat constrained to immediately start the project because of unavailability of resources.

 

The state should amenably engage multilateral and bilateral development partners like it did with projects such as Kazungula Bridge, for instance, for sourcing out resources to immediately start this project and give Selibe Phikwe a priority, especially given that the primary raw material for the project is coal and this coal was used by BCL from Morupule Colliery and it can just be a continuation of the usage of that coal’’ he said


The Acting Minister who is also in this regard Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe East told this publication that consultations have been extensive in terms of looking at the scope of the project, its potential and cost of investment and therefore government will be putting up the project to public tender.


“We will be doing so, so that we are able to select the experts who will provide Government with the appropriate advice. On the basis of that, we would then progress the project to the next level where the selected companies would then determine the extent of the investment, at this point in time, it is difficult to give an estimated number of people the project can employ. Like I said, we are still at concept design stage,” Molefhi explained.

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Mining production rebounds to pre-Covid-19 levels

12th January 2022
Mining production

The local mining industry is on the rise again, emerging out of the COVID-19 pandemic induced headwinds. 

In 2020 mining operations had to curtail their production in response to plummeting demand across commodity markets. Companies also had to reduce their workforce to comply with COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing in an effort to curb the spread of the contagious plague.

This resulted in low production levels across the sector, however operations are significantly jumping back to pre-COVID-19 output levels albeit another variant that has now surfaced, posing uncertainty for the year 2022.

Just before close of business for the year 2021, Statistics Botswana released the Index of Mining Production, a quarterly measure of output across Botswana’s mining operations and extractive industries.

The Index of Mining Production stood at 95.5 during the third quarter of 2021, showing a year-on-year growth of 31.8 percent, from 72.5 registered during the third quarter of 2020.

The quarter-on-quarter analysis shows an increase of 11.6 percent from the index of 85.6 during the second quarter of 2021 to 95.5 observed during the period under review.

The main contributor to the increase in mining production came from the Diamonds, which contributed 31.2 percentage points.

Gold was the only negative contributor to mining production, at negative 0.4 of a percentage point.

Diamond production increased by 32.2 percent (1.584 million carats) from 4.916 million carats during the third quarter of 2020 to 6.5 million carats during the same quarter of the current year.

The increase was a result of planned strategy to align production with stronger trading conditions.

Similarly, the quarter-on-quarter analysis shows that production registered an increase of 11.6 percent (673 000 carats) during the third quarter of 2021 compared to the 5.8 million thousand carats during the second quarter of 2021.

Botswana’s flagship diamond producer is De Beers – Government jointly owned Debswana, by far the country’ s mining jewel and global leader in rough diamond production.

The other diamond producing operation is Lucara’s 100 % owned Karowe Mine, a relatively small operation but known around the globe for its spectacular diamond recoveries, the likes of which the world has never seen before.

Gold production decreased by 26.9 percent (65 kilograms) during the third quarter of 2021, from 241kilograms during the same quarter of the previous year to 176 kilograms currently

The quarter-on- quarter analysis reflects a decrease of 5.5 percent (10 kilograms) to 176 kilograms during the third quarter of 2021, compared to 186 kilograms in the preceding quarter.

Botswana’s sole gold producer is Galane Gold’s Mupane Mine in North East Botswana, enclaved around the historic gold fields of Francistown.

The decrease in production according to Statistics Botswana was a result of the deteriorating lifespan of the mine. Mupane Gold Mine is currently on a rough run with imminent workers strike over unsatisfactory payments. The impending protests have been heavily endorsed by Botswana Mine Workers Union.

In Sua Pan, the sodium crystals have risen to glory, making Sowa Town great again, Soda Ash production rose by 81.7 percent (29, 312 tonnes) from 35, 883 tonnes during the third quarter of 2020 to 65, 195 tonnes in the same quarter of the current year.

The quarter-on-quarter analysis shows that production went up by 12.5 percent (7, 233 tonnes) during the period under review, from 57, 962 tonnes during the previous quarter.

The increase in production is attributable to the effectiveness of the plant following refurbishment which occurred in the third quarter of 2020.

Salt production went up by 86.1 percent (78, 566 tonnes) to 169, 826 tonnes during the third quarter of 2021, from 91, 261 tonnes during the same quarter of the previous year.

Similarly, the quarter-on-quarter analysis shows that salt production registered an increase of 66.9 percent (68, 050 tonnes) compared to 101, 776 tonnes during the second quarter of 2021.

Botswana’s industrial scale Salt an Soda  Soda Ash producer is Botswana Ash (Botash), a 50-50 partnership between Botswana Government  and South African Chlor Alkali Holdings (CAH) Group.

Coal production increased by 1.0 percent (5, 434 tonnes), from 543, 793 tonnes during the third quarter of 2020, to 549, 227 tonnes in the current quarter.

The slight increase came as a result of the efforts made to meet both domestic and international high demand, particularly that new markets have been identified.

The quarter-on-quarter comparison shows that coal production went up by 13.1 percent (63, 585 tonnes) compared to 485, 642 tonnes during the second quarter of the current year.

Inthe coal space the only operating mines are the privately developed Minergy’s Masama located near Media Village and the wholly Gorvenment owned Morupule Coal Mine.

Copper-Nickel-Cobalt Matte recorded zero production during the period under review. The affected mines are still under provisional liquidation.

Copper in Concentrates and Silver though there has been exportation of Copper by the newly launched Khoemacau Copper Mine since July 2021, the mine has been engaged in preparatory mining activities in readiness for full operations intended for the year 2022.

The preparatory mining operations yielded rewarding outcomes as copper residues realized have been exported since July 2021.

The period between preparatory and full operations is intended to allow the production to stabilize before reporting production output figures.

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Exports plummeted in October 2021

12th January 2022
diamonds

Botswana exports took a knock in October 2021 registering only P4,960.7 million, a 22.1 percent decline from the revised September 2021 value of P6,365.1 million, latest International Merchandise Trade Statistics  have revealed. 

According to this monthly data, released by Statistics Botswana late December 2021 the decline is attributed largely to the reduction in the exportation of Diamonds by 22.6 percent (P1, 264.8 million) from the revised September 2021 value of P5, 608.4 million to P4, 343.6 million.

Though it registered a decline in export figures , the Diamonds group still remained Botswana ‘s biggest exported commodity accounted for 87.6 percent (P4, 343.6 million) of total exports, followed by Copper and Machinery & Electrical Equipment with 3.1 percent (P152.2 million) and 2.6 percent (P131.3 million) respectively.

During the month Asia was the main destination for Botswana exports, having received 65.5 percent (P3, 249.0 million) of total exports. These exports were mainly destined to the UAE and India, having received 28.1 percent (P1, 395.1 million) and 20.4 percent (P1, 011.8 million) of total exports, respectively. Only Diamonds and Copper were exported to the regional block during the October.

Exports destined to the EU amounted to P1, 066.6 million, accounting for 21.5 percent of total exports during the month under review. Belgium received almost all of the exports destined to the regional union, acquiring 21.4 percent (P1, 062.0 million) of total exports during the reporting period. The Diamonds group was the main commodity group exported to the EU.

The SACU region received exports valued at P423.6 million, representing 8.5 percent of total exports. Machinery & Electrical Equipment and Live Cattle accounted for 28.0 percent (P118.6 million) and 14.1 percent (P59.7 million) of total exports to the customs union.

South Africa received 7.8 percent (P386.7 million) of total exports during the month under review more goods entered Botswana in October than the previous month September.

On the other side the value of imports for the month of October clocked P8, 801.5 million, mirroring an increase of 30.5 percent (P2, 056.1 million) over the September 2021 revised figure of P6, 745.4 million.

The increase was mainly attributed to a more than 100 percent (P1, 755.9 million) rise in the importation of Diamonds from the revised September 2021 figure of P1, 616.2 million to P3, 372.0 during the current period.

Diamonds contributed 38.3 percent (P3, 372.0 million) to total imports. Fuel; Food, Beverages & Tobacco and Machinery & Electrical Equipment followed with contributions of 12.3 percent (P1, 086.6 million), 11.7 percent (P1,034.1 million and 10.0 percent (P882.7 million) respectively. Chemicals & Rubber Products contributed 9.7 percent (P856.1 million).

During the month SACU region contributed 61.4 percent (P5, 405.3 million) to Botswana ‘s total imports. The top most imported commodity groups from the customs union were Fuel; Food, Beverages & Tobacco and Diamonds, with contributions of 19.9 percent (P1, 075.1 million), 17.9 percent (P965.0 million) and 16.3 percent (P882.5 million) to imports from the region, respectively.

South Africa contributed 58.8 percent (P5, 176.0 million) to total imports during the reporting period. Fuel, Food, Beverages & Tobacco and Diamonds made contributions of 18.4 percent (P952.3 million), 18.3 percent (P949.4 million), and 16.0 percent (P826.7 million) respectively to imports from South Africa.

Botswana received imports worth P1, 794.2 million from the EU, accounting for 20.4 percent of total imports during October 2021.

The major commodity group imported from the EU was Diamonds, at 89.8 percent (P1, 611.0 million) of all imports from the union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, with a contribution of 18.7 percent (P1, 643.1 million) of total imports during the month of October.

During the month Imports from Asia were valued at P989.5 million, accounting for 11.2 percent of total imports.

The major commodity groups imported from the regional block were Diamonds and Machinery & Electrical Equipment with contributions of 51.9 percent (P513.8 million) and 13.4 percent (P132.6 million) of total imports from Asia.

China and UAE supplied 2.5 percent (P221.3 million) and 2.3 percent (P202.0 million) of total imports during the period, respectively.

Canada supplied imports worth P364.0 million, representing 4.1 percent of Botswana’s total imports during the current period. Imports from Canada were mainly Diamonds, at 99.6 (P362.3 million) of imports from that country.

The rise in imports and decline in exports resulted in a trade deficit of P3, 840.8 million for the month of October.

During the month exports transported by Air were worth P4, 380.1 million, accounting for 88.3 percent of total exports, while those leaving the country by Road were valued at P567.5 million (11.4 percent) while  imports representing 51.7 percent (P4, 554.0 million) were transported into the country by Road.

Transportation of imports by Rail and Air accounted for 24.4 percent (P2, 148.0 million) and 23.8 percent (P2, 098.4 million) respectively.

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Debswana receives African award from Absa for its CEE policy

12th January 2022
Absa

Debswana Diamond Company, Botswana’s flagship mining business recently received an award from Absa Bank Group in recognition of its commitment to economic empowerment across the supply chain.

The 4th Annual Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards were held in Johannesburg, South Africa on the 18th November 2021.

The awards celebrate companies that are working towards a better African continent through innovative and impactful supplier development initiatives.

The selection process acknowledges and recognizes corporates who go beyond the scorecard to open access, empower SMEs, foster learning, build a community of best practice and encourage a collaborative spirit within their industries and within the communities in which they operate.

Explaining how Debswana scooped the award Absa Bank Botswana Managing Director Keabetswe Pheko-Moshagane said: “At Absa Bank Botswana, we were excited that for the first time since inception, the 2021 awards were extended to include nominations from Sub-Saharan Africa.”

She explained that the judges special recognition awards for Sub Saharan Africa corporates (excluding South Africa) were made under four categories being: commitment to Economic Empowerment across the Supply Chain, commitment to women inclusion in the supply chain, Commitment to localization of the supply chain and lastly commitment to a pioneering supplier development.

“We immediately thought of the transformative and inspiring work that Debswana is doing locally and what the company continues to achieve through its Citizen Economic Empowerment Program,” she said.

Pheko-Moshagane explained that in recognition of this commitment and outstanding leadership Absa nominated Debswana Diamond Company into the competition under the category: “commitment to economic empowerment across the supply chain”, for which the company was selected as the winner.

The Absa Bank Botswana MD hailed Debswana Citizen Economic Empowerment Program as a true example of how the private sector can contribute to rebuilding the economy through and post the Covid -19 pandemic.

“Your commitment to citizen economic empowerment resonates with us at Absa bank, because we are also committed to and passionate about growing Small and Medium businesses as they represent a vital part of our economy,” she said.

In 2017 Absa, launched the Enterprise and Supply Chain Development (ESD) in the local market as a response to address some challenges faced by the SMEs. The main objective of ESD is to unlock lending to SMEs in corporate value chains.

The introduction of the ESD program has streamlined some of the stringent financing requirements like the provision of financial statements, security, historical performance and weak credit ratings.

The relaxation of the financing requirements has therefore enabled the SMEs to execute on the provision of goods or services for the clients and positively impacted their growth.

ESD uses non-traditional bank lending solutions to provide financing to SME’s. Through this program Absa offers 100% finance to Enterprises in corporate supply chains.

Moshagane said this approach has allowed Absa to unlock the opportunities within the large corporate as they are now assured that their suppliers and contractors will be able to deliver and in addition releasing the corporate cash flows.

“We continue to explore various partnership agreements with various corporates to see how best we can assist the SMEs in response to government’s call for Citizen Economic Empowerment by propelling the support of the SMMEs” she said.

Speaking to Absa & Debswana partnership Mrs Keabetswe Pheko-Moshagane said  the relationship thus far has seen Debswana extend contracts to the value of BWP1.2 billion to SMEs on a  joint program, and Absa has financed close to half a billion to these SMEs, some of which would not have ordinarily qualified for funding under normal banking circumstances.

“To date no SME on the program has had its banking or contract facility terminated, which speaks to the commitment on both our ends in ensuring the success of these SMEs”

Receiving the award, Debswana Acting Managing Director, Lynette Armstrong explained that Debswana started its Citizen Economic Empowerment journey with ABSA Bank in 2017, borne out of the realisation of access to finance challenges by citizen owned enterprises.

This partnership, initiated with a deliverable to implement a pilot project at Orapa Letlhakane Damtshaa Mines within the crushing and drilling spaces.

The two projects delivered the desired results in project KPI’s with impeccable safety records with Absa providing the required access to finance that enabled the citizen suppliers to acquire machinery for the projects.

In 2019, Debswana set up the Citizen Economic Empowerment Programme office a factor that accelerated the signing of a MoU in 2020 on access to finance between Debswana and ABSA and in that, ABSA has pledged to avail access to finance totalling an unprecedented BWP1billion over a period of 3 years.

To date, ABSA has financed 23 projects since 2020 at a total impact of BWP1.5 billion pula in Contract amount with more than BWP700 million advanced to citizen suppliers.

These funds enabled citizen suppliers to pay salaries on time, procure machinery in various areas such as drilling and crushing and participate in the recent LTE installation at Jwaneng Mine.

Armstrong said in the coming year 2022, CEEP will see Debswana focused on implementing plans aimed at supporting local manufacturing and local repairs and maintenance.

“This is where access to funding is key as the two areas of local manufacturing and local repairs and maintenance have a potential to create meaningful and sustainable employment in the medium to long term to achieve Debswana’s target of 20 000 jobs by 2024”

She noted that Debswana has committed to heightened efforts of connecting the Youth and Women in the Debswana Citizen Economic Empowerment conversation, capacitation series and participation in the economic opportunities to further, totally involve all possible demographics and diversify the creativity of building sustainable communities and Make Life Brilliant for all, a total commitment of our Debswana Strategy 2024.

The Debswana Acting MD said the recognition of Debswana for its commitment to economic empowerment across the supply chain by is an encouragement to the Debswana – ABSA partnership and “gives us hope to further intensify our efforts to create opportunities for our fellow citizens and support Government’s efforts towards achieving prosperity for all in terms of Vision 2036”

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