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BOD takes over Petras CKGR exploration assets, hunts Botswanas next diamond glory

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 latters 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 Botswanas 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 Petras 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 Botswanas 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.

Business

Grit divests from Letlole La Rona

22nd March 2023

Grit Services Limited, a member of the pan African real estate group, London Stock Exchange listed Grit Real Estate Income Group is divesting from Letlole La Rona Limited (LLR), a local real estate company established by government investment arm Botswana Development Corporation over a decade ago.

The Board of Directors of Letlole La Rona Limited this week announced in a statement to Unitholders that Grit Services Limited (‘Grit’) has informed them of its intention to exit its investment in the company.

Grit has been a material shareholder in LLR since 2019. On 07 March 2023, Grit sold 6 421 000 linked units, representing 2.29% of the Company’s total securities in issue, at a market value of BWP 22 537 710.

This trade follows previous sales of 6.79% in December 2022, as communicated to Unitholders on 10 January 2023, as well as a further sale of 4.78% (representing 13 347 068 linked units) on 24 February 2023 to various shareholders.

In aggregate, Grit has sold 13.9% shareholding in the Letlole La Rona between December 2022 and March 2023, resulting in current shareholding of 11.25% in the Company.

Letlole La Rona said in the statement that the exit process will take place in an orderly manner so as to maintain stability of the Company’s share price.

The statement explained that Grit’s sale of its entire shareholding in LLR is in line with its decision to exit investments where it does not have majority control, or where it has significant exposure to currencies other than US dollar, Euro or hard-currency-pegged revenue streams.

“Grit has announced similar decisions pertaining to certain of its hospitality assets in Mauritius recently. The Company would like to advise Unitholders that it remains focused on long-term value delivery to all stakeholders” LLR said

In July last year as part of their Go-to-Africa strategy Letlole La Rona acquired an initial 30% equity stake in Orbit Africa Logistics, with an option to increase this investment to 50%. OAL is a special purpose vehicle incorporated in Mauritius, owning an industrial asset in a prime industrial node in Nairobi, Kenya.

The co-investment was done alongside a wholly owned subsidiary of London listed Grit. The Orbit facility is situated on a prime industrial site on Mombasa Road, the principal route south of Nairobi center, serving the main industrial node, the port of Mombasa and the industrial town of Athi River and is strategically located 11 kilometers south of the international airport and 9.6 kilometers from the Inland Container Depot.

Grit shareholding in Letlole La Rona was seen as strategic for LLR, for the company to leverage on Grit’s already existing continental presence and expand its wings beyond Botswana borders as already delivered by Kenya transaction.

Media reports have however suggested that LLR and Grit have since late last year had fundamental disagreements on how to go about the Go-to-Africa strategy amongst other things, fuelled by alleged Botswana government interference on the affairs of LLR.

Government through LLR founding shareholder – Botswana Development Corporation has a controlling stake of around 40 percent in the company. Government is the sole shareholder of Botswana Development Corporation.

Letlole La Rona recently released their financial results for the six months ended December 2022, revenue increased by 4% to P50.2 million from P48.4 million in the prior comparative six months, whilst operating profit was up 8% to P36.5 million. Profit before tax of P49.7 million was reported, an increase of 8% on the prior comparative six months.

“We are encouraged by the strong results, notwithstanding a challenging economic environment. Our performance was mainly underpinned by annual lease escalations, our quality tenant base and below average market vacancy levels, especially in our warehouse portfolio,” Kamogelo Mowaneng, Letlole La Rona Chief Executive Officer commented.

LLR reported a weighted average lease expiry period of 3.3 years and escalation rates averaging 6.8% per annum for the period ended 31 December 2022.Its investment portfolio value increased by 14% year-on-year to close the period at P1.4 billion, mainly driven by the acquisition of a 30% stake in OAL in July 2022.

The Company also recorded a significant increase in other income, predominantly due to foreign exchange gains on the OAL shareholder loan. “We continue to explore pipeline opportunities locally, and regionally in line with our Go-to-Africa strategy and our interest remains on value-accretive investments,” Mowaneng said.

An interim distribution of 9.11 thebe per linked unit was declared on the 6th of February 2023 for the half-year period to 31 December 2022, comprising of a dividend of 0.05 thebe and debenture interest of 9.06 thebe per linked unit which will be paid to linked unit holders registered in the books of the Company at the close of business on 24 February 2023.

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Business

Stargems Group establishes Training Center in BW

20th March 2023

Internationally-acclaimed diamond manufacturing company StarGems Group has established the Stargems Diamond Training Center which will be providing specialized training in diamond manufacturing and evaluation.

The Stargems Diamond Training Institute is located at the Stargems Group Botswana Unit in Gaborone.

“In accordance with the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS) which holds the principle that through education and skills development as well as the strategic alignment between national ambitions and individual capabilities, Botswana will become a prosperous, productive and innovative nation due to the quality and efficacy of its citizenry. The Training Centre will provide a range of modules in theory and in practice; from rough diamond evaluation to diamond grading and polishing for Batswana, at no cost for eight weeks. The internationally- recognized certificate offered in partnership with Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School presents invaluable opportunities for Batswana to access in the diamond industry locally and internationally. The initiative is an extension of our Corporate Social Investment to the community in which we operate,” said Vishal Shah, Stargems Group Managing Director, during the launch of the Stargems Diamond Training Center.

In order to participate in this rare opportunity, interested candidates are invited to submit a police clearance certificate and a BGCSE certificate only to the Stargems offices.  Students who excel in these programs will have the chance to be onboarded by the Stargems Group. This serves as motivation for them to go through this training with a high level of seriousness.

“Community empowerment is one of our CSR principles. We believe that businesses can only thrive when their communities are well taken of. We are hoping that our presence will be impactful to various communities and economies. In the six countries that we are operating in, we have contributed through dedicating 10% of our revenues during COVID-19 to facilitate education, donating to hospitals and also to NGOs committed to supporting women and children living with HIV. One key issue that we are targeting in Botswana is the rate of unemployment amongst the youth. We are looking forward to working closely with the government and other relevant authorities to curb unemployment,” said Shah.

Currently, Stargems Group has employed 117 Batswana and they are looking forward to growing the numbers to 500 as the company grows. Majority of the employees will be graduates from the Stargems Diamond Training Center. This initiation has been received with open arms by the general public and stakeholders. During the launch, the Minister of Minerals and Energy,  Honorable Lefoko Moagi, stated that the ministry fully endorses Stargems Diamond Training and will work closely with the Group to support and grow the initiative.

“As a ministry, we see this as an game changer that is aligned with one of the United Nations’ Six Priority Sustainable Development Goals, which is to Advance Opportunity and Impact for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). What Stargems Group is launching today will have a huge impact on the creation of employment in Botswana. An economy’s productivity rises as the number of educated workers increases as its skilled workmanship increases. It is not a secret that low skills perpetuate poverty and widen the inequality gap, therefore the development of skills has the potential to contribute significantly to structural transformation and economic growth by enhancing employability and helping the country become more competitive. We are grateful to see the emergence of industry players such as Stargems Group who have strived to create such opportunities that mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy,” said the Minister of Minerals and Energy.

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Business

Food import bill slightly declines

20th March 2023

The latest figures released by Statistics Botswana this week shows that food import bill for Botswana slightly declined from around P1.1 billion in November 2022 to around P981 million in December during the same year.

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