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BCL’s Polaris 11 to boost GDP growth by 15%

Through the implementation of Polaris 2, BCL seeks transform itself from a mere resource mining company by adding value to its copper and nickel and by-products as a basis of reinvent itself as a fully diversified conglomerate through mergers and acquistions, according to BCL Divisional Manger Motsie Sibanda.


The company is planning ahead so that when the hen which lays the golden egg finally perishes, both BCL and the smoky town will be resurrected and reincarnated to remain relevant in continuing to provide decent wages supporting many families and providing impetus to economy of  Selibi-Phikwe.


In this regard, BCL is carrying out a major pre-feasibility study for establishing a 8000 ton per annum copper nickel refinery for making refined grade copper nickel cathade. The refinery proposition has the capacity to create about 600 additional jobs.

The study also seeks to expand and sustain nickel production circuit, develop a chemicals and by-products production circuit, develop a precious metals and other minerals production circuit, develop an iron production circuit, develop a coal production and beneficiation circuit, acquire equity interests in and develop a precious metals and other minerals production circuit and establish the basis for major chemicals and chemicals by-products industries.

BCL has found a lacuna to diversify from its current business model as it is clearly not sustainable.

The community of the greater SPEDU region would be adversely impacted by the closure of the BCL operations. POLARIS II seeks to address the projected demise by creating an industry that will be bigger than the current set up.


BCL strategic plan in the short to medium terms calls for beneficiation of its resource bases and making optimal use of its smelting facility and turning the company into an viable enterprise while in the long term, there are plans to turn the company into a regional diversified resource group attracting business from other base metal mining houses to add value to their mineral products using the smelter at BCL and venturing into the production of chemicals including acids and fertilizers.

The company also seeks to acquiring equity interest in coal, energy, iron and steel businesses and other minerals in order to further diversify its portfolio.


“BCL needs to diversify because its current business model is not sustainable. The people of greater SPEDU region would be adversely impacted by the closure of the BCL operations. Polaris 11 seeks to address the project demise by creating an industry that will be bigger than the current set up”, says Sibanda.


Precious mineral exploration licences have already been acquired and exploration is currently in progress. The construction of the steel production has been completed and was officially opened on October 25 this year and is expected to employ 1000 people. Scrap Metal is the major input for the plant.

Power is the second major input and gasifier produces gas by burning coal and is used to fire furnaces. A commitment with suppliers has been concluded to secure supply of scrap.

The production process of producing finished steel from scrap involves extraction of bulk steel in the induction. Furnace manufactures billets by feeding molten metal to a “concast”. Product could be exported in billet form; or billets could be further processed into higher value products.

The aspect of coal production and  beneficiation seeks to acquire coal resource  this year  and at the same time complete a coal to liquid study.

BCL is also determining the feasibility of utilizing the sulphur dioxide emissions  to produce valuable by products  and making Botswana self sufficient  in the production of fertilizers and thereby supporting other downstream industries. The company will further vigorously persue securing long term  minerals for the BCL smelter and medium to long term  exploration of other copper nickel deposits and toll treating opportunities.

This will include not only securing mineral concentrates for the smelter, but also future expansion refining capabilities and making more acquisitions of equities in their business entities. Beneficiation process will include more capacity for further stages in the refining of copper and nickel and other base metals.   


It is anticipated that at the end the economic and social benefits of efforts with Polaris 11 will be the generation of employment opportunities for approximately 4000 people directly when fully realized, industrialization of the economy, precisely the manufacturing sector, support government policies for economic diversification and growth and which in turn will contribute towards social, economic and political stability and extend the life of the city of Selebi Phikwe.


Other indirect economic benefits will the building of more infrastructure and the project has the potential to make a 15% contribution to Botswana’s GDP and increase manufacturing sector GDP by more than 2.5 times from the current 6%, when the project is fully operational.

The project will further add impetus to Botswana becoming a manufacturing hub  in the SADC  region and promoting the country  as hub for the production of fertilizers in all of Africa and  develop local community infrastructure in partnership with the government.


Direct economic and social impact will be the generation of employment opportunities for the local population of about 1000 people in the facility with further multiplier effects of generating employment  from associated projects  in construction of facilities and their maintenance, logistics and products distribution and supporting and promoting local businesses.

It is also anticipated that the project will  improve the living standards, increase disposable incomes and consumer spending and promote best practices in the use of fertilizers to increase yields in agricultural production and provide detergents and chemicals for office, household and industrial use.


The harzadous environmental effects of sulphur dioxide emissions will also be contained at last with 100% consumption  of harmful by-products while further ensuring compliance with all the government and international standards of emissions and effort to promote healthy living environment.

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Business

Gambling Authority tender dangles as a jittery lottery quandary

30th November 2020
SEFALANA MD: CHANDRA CHAUHAN

Lucrative and highly anticipated national lottery tender that saw several Batswana businessmen partnering to form a gambling consortium to pit against their South African counterparts, culminates into a big power gamble.

WeekendPost has had a chance to watch lottery showcase even before the anticipated and impending national lottery set-up launches. A lot has been a big gamble from the bidding process which is now set for the courts next year January following a marathon legal brawl involving the interest of the gambling fraternity in Botswana and South Africa.

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The uncertainty of getting the next meal in Botswana

30th November 2020
uncertainty of getting the next meal

Households representing more than half of Botswana’s population-mostly residing in rural areas- do not know where their next meal will come from, but neither do they take into consideration the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume.

This is according to the latest Prevalence of Food Insecurity in Botswana report which was done for the 2018/19 period and represents the state of food insecurity data even to this time.
The Prevalence of Food Insecurity was released by Statistics Botswana and it released results with findings that the results show that at national level 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity in 2018/19, while 22.2 percent of the population was affected by severe food insecurity only.

According to the report, this translates to 27 percent of the population being food secure that is to say having adequate access to food in both quality and quantity. According to Statistician General, Burton Mguni, when explaining how the food data was compiled, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is custodian of the “Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU)” and “Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)” SDG indicators, for leading FIES data analysis and the resultant capacity building.

“The FIES measures the extent of food insecurity at the household or individual level. The indicator provides internationally comparable estimates of the proportion of the population facing moderate to severe difficulties in accessing food. The FIES consists of eight brief questions regarding access to adequate food, and the questions are answered directly with a yes/no response. It (FIES) complements the existing food and nutrition security indicators such as Prevalence of Undernourishment.

According to the FIES, with increasing severity, the quantity of food consumed decreases as portion sizes are reduced and meals are skipped. At its most severe level, people are forced to go without eating for a day or more. The scale further reveals that the household’s experience of food insecurity may be characterized by uncertainty and anxiety regarding food access and compromising the quality of the diet and having a less balanced and more monotonous diet,” says Mguni.

The 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana which was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity are characterized as people experiencing moderate food insecurity and face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food. These people have been forced to compromise on the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume according to the report on food insecurity.

Those who experience severe food insecurity, the 22.2 percent of the population, are people who have typically run out of food and, at worst, gone a day (or days) without eating. According to the statistics, rural area population experienced moderate to severe food insecurity at 65 percent while urban villages were at 46.60 percent and cities/town were at 31.70 percent. Those experiencing the most extreme and severe insecurity were at rural areas making 33.10 percent while urban villages and towns were at 11.90 percent and 17.50 respectively.

According to a paper compiled by Sirak Bahta, Francis Wanyoike, Hikuepi Katjiuongua and Davis Marumo and published in December 2017, titled ‘Characterization of food security and consumption patterns among smallholder livestock farmers in Botswana,’ over 70 percent of Botswana’s population reside in rural areas, and majority (70%) relies on traditional/subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.

The study set out to characterize the food security situation and food consumption patterns among livestock keepers in Botswana. “Despite the policy change, challenges still remain in ensuring that all persons and households have access to food at all times. For example, during an analysis of the impacts of rising international food prices for Botswana, BIDPA reported that food prices tended to be highest in the rural areas already disadvantaged by relatively low levels of income and high rates of unemployment,” said the study.

According to the paper, about 9 percent of households were found to be food insecure and this category of households included 6 percent of households that ranked poorly and 3 percent that were on the borderline according to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) definition of food security.

Media reports state that the World Bank has warned that disruption to production and supply chains could ‘spark a food security crisis’ in Africa, forecasting a fall in farm production of up to 7 percent, if there are restrictions to trade, and a 25 percent decline in food imports.

Food security in Botswana or food production was also attacked by the locust pandemic which swept out this country’s vegetation and plants. The locust is said to have contributed to 25 percent loss in production.

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Business

Solid demand for diamonds towards the ‘gift’ season

30th November 2020
Diamonds

Global lockdown have been a thorn in diamonds having shiny sales, but a lot of optimism shows with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the precious stones will be bought with high volumes towards festive season. The diamond market is however warned of the resurgence of Covid-19 in key markets presents ongoing risks amid the presence and optimist about the new Covid-29 vaccines.

The latest findings published as De Beers Group’s latest Diamond Insight ‘Flash’ Report, which looks at the impact of the pandemic on relationships and engagements, has revealed that in the US that more couples than ever are buying diamond engagement rings. Bridal sales is mostly the primary source of diamond jewellery demand in recent months, De Beers said.

According to De Beers, interviews with independent jewellers around the US revealed that the rate of couples getting engaged has increased compared with the period when Covid-19 first had an impact in the US in the spring.

“In addition, despite challenging economic times, consumers were spending more than ever on diamond engagement rings – often upgrading in colour, cut and clarity, rather than size. Several jewellers speculated that with consumers spending less on elaborate weddings and/or honeymoons in the current environment, they had more to spend on choosing the perfect ring,” said De Beers.

According to De Beers, a national survey of 360 US women in serious relationships, undertaken in late October in collaboration with engagement and wedding website, The Knot. This survey is said to have found that the majority of respondents (54%) were thinking more about their engagement ring than the wedding itself (32%) or the honeymoon (15%), supporting jewellers’ hypothesis that engagement ring sales were benefiting from reduced wedding and travel budgets in light of Covid-19 restrictions.

When it came to researching engagement rings, online was by far the predominant channel for gaining ideas/inspiration at 86% of consumers surveyed, with 85% saying they had saved examples of styles they liked, according to De Beers. According to the survey, only a uarter of respondents said they had looked in-store at a physical location for design inspiration.

“For many couples, the pandemic has brought them even closer together, in some instances speeding up the path to engagement after forming a deeper connection while experiencing lockdown and its associated ups and downs as a partnership. Engagement rings are taking on even greater symbolism in this environment, with retailers reporting couples are prepared to invest more than usual, particularly due to budget reductions in other areas,” De Beers CEO Cleaver said.

According to De Beers Group, its Diamond Insight Flash Report series is focused on understanding the US consumer perspective in light of Covid-19 and monitoring how it evolves as the crisis evolves. Also, the company said, it is augmenting its existing research programme with additional consumer, retailer and supply chain touch-basis to understand the pain points and the opportunities for stakeholders across the diamond pipeline.

Demand for diamonds is as hard and resilient as the precious stone itself. De Beers pocketed US$ 450 million in its recently held ninth rough diamond sales cycle, and the company says it is more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the ninth sales cycle of 2020, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.

“Steady demand for De Beers Group’s rough diamonds continued in the ninth sales cycle of the year, reflecting stable consumer demand for diamond jewellery at the retail level in the US and China, and expectations for reasonable demand to continue throughout the holiday season. However, the resurgence of Covid-19 infections in several consumer markets presents ongoing risks,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver recently.

High expectations are on diamonds being a sentimental gift for holiday season or as the most fetished gift. However the ninth cycle was lower than the eighth which registered US$ 467 million. For the last year period which corresponds with the current one, De Beers managed to raise US$ 400.

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