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BOD takes over Petra’s CKGR exploration assets, hunts Botswana’s next diamond glory

Diamonds

Botswana Diamonds PLC, an exploration company listed on Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) and London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market (AIM) 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.

In a statement released by Botswana Diamonds on Monday the acquisition is coupled with 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.

Further more Sekaka holds a recently constructed, fit-for-purpose bulk sampling plant on site. The sampling plant includes crushing, scrubbing, dense media separation circuits and x-ray recovery modules within a secured area. The acquisition by BOD includes an extensive database, built up over 15 years of exploration. This deal according to information published by BOD comprises a cash payment of US$300,000 and a 5% royalty on future revenues.

The cash consideration is payable on a deferred basis with US$150,000 payable on 31 August 2021 and the balance on or before 31 August 2022. Statement from Botswana Diamonds states reveals the company intends to fund the cash consideration through an issue of new ordinary shares at such time.  In addition, Petra is entitled to a 5% royalty on the sale of diamonds that are commercially produced from KX36.

The royalty is also payable on diamonds from any kimberlite discovered from Sekaka’s data.  However BOD has the option to buy-out the royalty for a cash payment of US$2 million. This watershed transaction earmarked to resource the take off of Botswana ‘s next diamonds story is however subject to customary regulatory approvals which include approval by the Botswana Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security under Section 23 of the Mines and Minerals Act as well as approval from Botswana’s Competition Authority approval in Botswana.

The transaction is also subject to approval by Petra’s lenders and note holders. The long-stop date for fulfillment of the Conditions Precedent is 31 August 2020, which may be extended by mutual agreement of the two parties. The KX36 discovery is a 3.5Ha Kimberlite pipe, discovered by Sekaka, in the Kalahari.  The Kimberlite is situated approximately 70 km from Gem Diamonds’ Ghaghoo Mine, and 260 km north-west of Botswana’s capital Gaborone.

Ghaghoo Mine was recently acquired from Gem Diamonds by a Batswana owned firm Pro Civils. Sekaka has undertaken extensive exploration work on KX36, including extensive core and Large Diameter Drilling .There is a historic SAMREC compliant Indicated Resource of 17.9 million tonnes at 35 cpht, and an Inferred Resource of 6.7 million tonnes at 36 cpht, estimated for the pipe by Z-Star in 2016.

As Sekaka owns 100% of KX36, gross and net resources are the same.  Sekaka is the operator of KX36.  BOD has not independently verified the historic resource estimate. Modelling these grade estimates suggests overall grades of between 57 cpht and 76 cpht.  The estimated diamond value from the LDD is $65/ct, with an upside range of between $97/ct and $107/ct, all assuming a +1.15mm Bottom Cut-Off or +3 DTC diamond sieve.

BOD says it plans to conduct a new exploration programme focused on the KX36 pipe and intends to spend approximately US$100,000 per annum in each of the next three years. Commenting on the acquisition, James Campbell, Managing Director of Botswana Diamond PLC said KX36 is the most significant diamond discovery in Botswana since Orapa and Jwaneng.

He noted that KX36, together with its associated Prospecting Licenses, adds scale to the Company’s Sunland and Maibwe JV properties in the Kalahari.“Botswana Diamonds will refine resource estimates of KX36, and development options.  The Sekaka exploration database adds to Botswana Diamonds’ extensive database, improving our diamond exploration programme, particularly in the Kalahari where we are currently focused,” he said.

John Teeling, BOD Chairman also added “This is an important step forward for BOD. KX36 is a very significant diamond discovery and potentially offers upside potential – as do the two contiguous prospecting licences. You rarely, if ever, find a kimberlite pipe on its own and further exploration may find more kimberlite pipes.”

“KX36, located deep in the Kalahari, presents challenges, but the greatest challenge of all is overcome – finding a significantly sized high-grade deposit.  We have evaluated options on KX36 and believe we can add value to the discovery.” He said.

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Botswana on high red alert as AML joins Covid-19 to plague mankind

21st September 2020
Botswana-on-high-alert-as-AML-joins-Covid-19-to-plague-mankind-

This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.

The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.

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Finance Committee cautions Gov’t against imprudent raising of debt levels

21st September 2020
Finance Committe Chairman: Thapelo Letsholo

Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.

He was speaking in  Parliament on Tuesday delivering  Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a  motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.

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Gov’t Investment Account drying up fast!  

21st September 2020
Dr Matsheka

Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.

The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.

The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.

The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.

This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.

Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.

Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.

However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.

Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.

When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.

This  as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.

Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.

The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.

Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.

In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.

Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.

Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.

Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.

Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance   Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”

He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”

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