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BITRI develops nanotechnology solutions for Botswana

Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) is in the developmental phase of nanotechnology based solutions for problems that exist in Botswana. The science and technology research institute conducts needs based research in line with national priority areas. 

Currently, at BITRI three research areas in which nanotechnology is being applied for product development are diagnostics, water and air filtration.

 Dr Samuel Chigome, Senior researcher – Natural Resources and Materials, at BITRI, told WeekendPost that nanotechnology is not new as it has been in existence from as far back as the ancient Roman times. It is the discovery of instruments that could allow visualisation of materials at the nanoscale in the  20th century that resulted in the nanotechnology boom simply because people could now understand what they are working with.

Dr Chigome, describes nanotechnology as “like any other technology area where you apply scientific knowledge for practical purposes; what is unique about nanotechnology is the scale at which you work. So, it can be described as a multidisciplinary science that looks at how you can manipulate matter at the smallest possible scale.”

The term nanotechnology is derived from the words ‘nano’ and ‘technology.’ Where nano refers to a billionth of a meter (10-9m), that is, 1 billion nanometres is equal to 1 metre. Putting the scale into context, Dr Chigome uses the example of a sheet of paper that is 0.1mm (100 000 nm) when compared to a carbon nanotube that is 2 nm which implies that 50 000 nanotubes are required to make up the thickness of a sheet of paper. Another example is that of an electrospun nanofiber which has a diameter that is a thousand times smaller than a human hair.  

Manipulation of matter at the nanoscale has been shown to result in many fascinating properties that have a wide range of applications. For example, bulk gold exhibits a characteristic yellow colour but once you reduce gold to nanoparticles, it exhibits a bright red colour with a range of colours that can be obtained as you change the shape of the gold nanoparticles. A common example of the use of gold nanoparticles in everyday life is the development of a pregnancy test kit. The same concept can be applied to develop a whole range of diagnostic kits.

The issue of salty water is a major challenge in many parts of Botswana. The potential of nanotechnology offers hope for the use of coal through conversion to carbon nanotubes that allow frictionless passage of water for low energy desalination.

Dr Chigome said that BITRI’s primary focus is on prototype development as it is a research and innovation institute.

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Matsheka seeks raise bond program ceiling to P30 billion

14th September 2020
Dr Matsheka

This week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka approached parliament seeking lawmakers approval of Government’s intention to increase bond program ceiling from the current P15 Billion to P30 billion.

“I stand to request this honorable house to authorize increase in bond issuance program from the current P15 billion to P30 billion,” Dr Matsheka said. He explained that due to the halt in economic growth occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic government had to revisit options for funding the national budget, particularly for the second half of the National Development Plan (NDP) 11.

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Lucara sits clutching onto its gigantic stones with bear claws in a dark pit

14th September 2020
Lesedi La Rona

Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) has this week revealed a gloomy picture of diamond mining newcomer, Lucara, with its stock devaluated and its entire business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A BSE survey for a period between 1st January to 31st August 2020 — recording the second half of the year, the third quarter of the year and five months of coronavirus in Botswana — shows that the Domestic Company Index (DCI) depreciated by 5.9 percent.

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Botswana Diamonds issues 50 000 000 shares to raise capital

14th September 2020

Botswana Diamond PLC, a diamond exploration company trading on both London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) on Monday unlocked value from its shares to raise capital for its ongoing exploration works in Botswana and South Africa.

A statement from the company this week reveals that the placing was with existing and new investors to raise £300,000 via the issue of 50,000,000 new ordinary shares at a placing price of 0.6p per Placing Share.

Each Placing Share, according to Botswana Diamond Executives has one warrant attached with the right to subscribe for one new ordinary share at 0.6p per new ordinary share for a period of two years from, 7th September 2020, being the date of the Placing Warrants issue.

In a statement Chairman of Botswana Diamonds, John Teeling explained that the funds raised will be used to fund ongoing exploration activities during the current year in Botswana and South Africa, and to provide additional working capital for the Company.

The company is currently drilling kimberlite M8 on the Marsfontein licence in South Africa and has generated further kimberlite targets which will be drilled on the adjacent Thorny River concession.

In Botswana, the funds will be focused on commercializing the KX36 project following the recent acquisition of Sekaka Diamonds from Petra Diamonds. This will include finalizing a work programme to upgrade the grades and diamond value of the kimberlite pipe as well as investigating innovative mining options.

Drilling is planned for the adjacent Sunland Minerals property and following further assessment of the comprehensive Sekaka database more drilling targets are likely. “This is a very active and exciting time for Botswana Diamonds. We are drilling the very promising M8 kimberlite at Marsfontein and further drilling is likely on targets identified on the adjacent Thorny River ground,” he said.

The company Board Chair further noted, “We have a number of active projects. The recently acquired KX36 diamond resource in the Kalahari offers great potential. While awaiting final approvals from the Botswana authorities some of the funds raised will be used to detail the works we will do to refine grade, size distribution and value per carat.”

In addition BOD said the Placing Shares will rank pari passu with the Company’s existing ordinary shares. Application will be made for the Placing Shares to be admitted to trading on AIM and it is expected that such admission will become effective on or around 23 September 2020.

Last month Botswana Diamond announced that it has entered into agreement with global miner Petra Diamonds to acquire the latter’s exploration assets in Botswana. Key to these assets, housed under Sekaka Diamonds, 100 % subsidiary of Petra is the KX36 Diamond discovery, a high grade ore Kimberlite pipe located in the CKGR, considered Botswana’s next diamond glory after the magnificent Orapa and prolific Jwaneng Mines.

The acquisition entailed two adjacent Prospecting Licences and a diamond processing plant. Sekaka has been Petra’s exploration vehicle in Botswana for year and holds three Prospecting Licenses in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Kalahari) PL169/2019, PL058/2007 and PL224/2007, which includes the high grade KX36 kimberlite pipe.

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