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Lucara posts strong Q2 results as H1 revenue surpass P1 billion

ira Thomas

Lucara Diamond Corp continued on its 2021 positive trajectory in the second quarter as it dusts itself out of 2020 loses induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian junior miner bolstered by continued large diamond recoveries at its wholly owned Karowe Mine posted revenue of $46.3 million (over P516 million) in the second three months period of the year 2021. This came about from sales of 68,961 carats at a price of $671 per carat reflecting impressive price recovery.

Included in revenue for the six months ended June 30, 2021 is a variable consideration of $5.1 million which relates to “top-up” payments expected from polished diamond sales in excess of the initial planned value paid to Lucara under the initial HB sales agreements for rough diamonds delivered in 2020.

Cumulatively, the company’s revenue at half year 2021 almost clocked $100 million, surpassing P1 billion in local currency following an impressive $53.1 million (over P560 million) in the first quarter of 2021. At the beginning of Q2 2020, all +10.8-carat diamonds mined from Karowe were delivered to HB pursuant to the terms of the diamond supply agreement between the two (2) entities penned in early 2020.

The total revenue of $46.3 million recorded in Q2 2021 presented a significant jump from Q2 2020 figure of $7.5 million. The 2020 low revenue outcome was occasioned by subdued demand due to movement & trade restrictions put in place worldwide by countries to curb the spread of the COVID- 19 virus.

A massive difference in prices of $671 per carat during Q2 2021 compared to $109 per carat last year mirrors the COVID effect in 2020. Relatively the same amount of carats was sold for the two comparative quarters being 68,961 carats and 68,979 carats for Q2 2021 and Q2 2020 respectfully.

Operating cash cost per tonne of ore processed for the six months ended June 30, 2021 was $28.79 per tonne (Q2 2020: $27.14 per tonne), in line with 2021 guidance of between $28 and $32 per tonne. Lucara recorded net income of $6.0 million (over P66 million) during Q2 2021 (earnings per share of $0.02), as compared to a net loss of $13.9 million (over P140 million) for Q2 2020 (loss per share of $0.04).

Adjusted EBITDA was $22.2 million, as compared to adjusted EBITDA of negative $10.0 million for the same period in 2020. As at June 30, 2021, the Company had cash and cash equivalents of $13.7 million (over P140 million), an increase of $8.8 million from December 31, 2020 and net debt of $36.6 million.

Lucara President & Chief Executive Officer Eira Thomas hailed the company’s performance “We ended second quarter with a stronger, more positive outlook on the diamond market, our business, and our plans for growth,” she said.

She highlighted that with a fully financed underground project now the Lucara would move with speed to ensure timely and safe execution of the works. “We are excited to be ramping up on our expansion plans at Karowe in the second half of the year,” she said.

Sales through Clara, Lucara‘s digital diamond sales platform, also displayed a robust run in Q2, demonstrating a great need for transformational technology as modernization of the diamond supply chain continues.

In respect of mining, Karowe delivered another record quarter in respect of diamonds larger than 10.8 carats in size, including 21 diamonds larger than 100 carats, 3 diamonds larger than 300 carats and the mine’s 3rd diamond over 1,000 carats.

Diamond sales in Q2 2021 continued to be held through a combination of regular tenders, and the Clara platform, for diamonds less than 10.8 carats, and through HB under the supply agreement for those diamonds greater than 10.8 carats.

Karowe’s large, high-value diamonds have historically accounted for approximately 60% to 70% of Lucara’s annual revenues. Though the mine remained fully operational following the declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic, Lucara made a decision not to tender any of its +10.8 carat production after early March 2020 amidst the uncertainty caused by the global crisis and the significant weakness observed in the rough diamond market.

The polished diamond market performed better through this period and subsequently, in July 2020, Lucara announced a partnership agreement with HB, entering into a definitive supply agreement for the remainder of 2020, for all diamonds produced in excess of +10.8 carats from our 100% owned Karowe Diamond mine in Botswana. In April 2021, this agreement was subsequently extended for a 24-month period, effective from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022.

Under the amended supply agreement with HB, +10.8 carat production from the Karowe Mine is being sold at prices based on the estimated polished outcome of each diamond, determined through state-of-the-art scanning and planning technology, with an adjusted amount payable on actual achieved polished sales compared to the initial estimated polished price, less a fee and the cost of manufacturing. This unique pricing mechanism delivers regular cash flow for this important segment of our production profile.

Business

New study reveals why youth entrepreneurs are failing

21st July 2022
Youth

The recent study on youth entrepreneurship in Botswana has identified difficult access to funding, land, machinery, lack of entrepreneurial mindset and proper training as serious challenges that continue to hamper youth entrepreneurship development in this country.

The study conducted by Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) in collaboration with University of Botswana has confirmed that despite the government and private sector multi-billion pula entrepreneurship development initiatives, many young people in Botswana continue to fail to grow their businesses into sustainable and successful companies that can help reduce unemployment.

University of Botswana researchers Gaofetege Ganamotse and Rudolph Boy who compiled findings in the 2022 study report for Botswana stated that as part of the study interviews were conducted with successful youth entrepreneurs to understand their critical success factors.

According to the researchers other participants were community leaders, business mentors, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture, financial institutions, higher education institutions, non-governmental institutions, policymakers, private organizations, and support structures such as legal and technical experts and accountants who were interviewed to understand how they facilitate successful youth entrepreneurship.

The researchers said they found that although Botswana government is perceived as the most supportive to businesses when compared to other governments in sub-Saharan Africa, youth entrepreneurs still face challenges when accessing government funding. “Several finance-related challenges were identified by youth entrepreneurs. Some respondents lamented the lack of access to start-up finance, whereas others mentioned lack of access to infrastructure.”

The researchers stated that in Botswana entrepreneurship is not yet perceived as a field or career of choice by many youth “Participants in the study emphasized that the many youth are more of necessity entrepreneurs, seeing business venturing as a “fall back. Other facilitators mentioned that some youth do not display creativity, mind-blowing innovative solutions, and business management skills. Some youth entrepreneurs like to take shortcuts like selling sweets or muffins.”

According to the researchers, some of the youth do not display perseverance when they are faced with adversity in business. “Young people lack of an entrepreneurial mindset is a common challenge among youth in business. Some have a mindset focused on free services, handouts, and rapid gains. They want overnight success. As such, they give up easily when faced with challenges. On the other hand, some participants argue that they may opt for quick wins because they do not have access to any land, machinery, offices, and vehicles.”

The researchers stated that most youth involved in business ventures do not have the necessary training or skills to maintain a business. “Poor financial management has also been cited as one of the challenges for youth entrepreneurs, such as using profit for personal reasons rather than investing in the business. Also some are not being able to separate their livelihood from their businesses.

Lastly, youth entrepreneurs reported a lack of experience as one of the challenges. For example, the experience of running a business with projections, sticking to the projections, having an accounting system, maintaining a clean and clear billing system, and sound administration system.”

According to the researchers, the participants in the study emphasized that there is fragmentation within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, whereby there is replication of business activities without any differentiation. “There is no integration of the ecosystem players. As such, they end up with duplicate programs targeting the same objectives. The financial sector recommended that there is a need for an intermediary body that will bring all the ecosystem actors together and serve as a “one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs and build mentorship programs that accommodate the business lifecycle from inception to growth.”

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Business

BHC yearend financial results impressive

18th July 2022
BHC

Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) is said to have recorded an operating surplus of P61 Million, an improvement compared to the previous year. The housing, office and other building needs giant met with stakeholders recently to share how the business has been.

The P61 million is a significant increase against the P6 million operating loss realized in the prior year. Profit before income tax also increased significantly from P2 million in the prior year to P72 million which resulted in an overall increase in surplus after tax from P1 million prior year to P64 million for the year under review.

Chief of Finance Officer, Diratsagae Kgamanyane disclosed; “This growth in surplus was driven mainly by rental revenue that increased by 15% from P209 million to P240 million and reduction in expenditure from P272 million to P214 million on the back of cost containment.”
He further stated that sales of high margin investment properties also contributed significantly to the growth in surplus as well as impairment reversals on receivables amounting to P25 million.

It is said that the Corporation recorded a total revenue of P702 million, an 8% decrease when compared to the P760 million recorded in the prior year. “Sales revenue which is one of the major revenue streams returned impressive margins, contributing to the overall growth in the gross margin,” added Kgamanyane.

He further stated professional fees revenue line declined significantly by 64% to P5 million from P14 million in the prior year which attributed to suspension of planned projects by their clients due to Covid-19 pandemic. “Facilities Management revenue decreased by P 24 million from P69 million recorded in prior year to P45 million due to reduction in projects,” Kgamanyane said.

The Corporation’s strength is on its investment properties portfolio that stood at P1.4 billion at the end of the reporting period. “The Corporation continues its strategy to diversify revenue streams despite both facilities management income and professional fees being challenged by the prevailing economic conditions that have seen its major clients curtailing spending,” added the CEO.

On the one hand, the Corporation’s Strategic Performance which intended to build 12 300 houses by 2023 has so far managed to build 4 830 houses under their SHHA funding scheme, 1 240 houses for commercial or external use which includes use by government and 1 970 houses to rent to individuals.

BHC Acting CEO Pascaline Sefawe noted that; BHC’s planned projects are said to include building 336 flat units in Gaborone Block 7 at approximately P224 million, 100 units in Maun at approximately P78 million, 13 units in Phakalane at approximately P26 million, 212 units in Kazungula at approximately P160 million, 96 units at approximately P42 million in Francistown and 84 units at approximately P61 million in Letlhakane. Emphasing; “People tend to accuse us of only building houses in Gaborone, so here we are, including other areas in our planned projects.”

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Business

Commercial banks to cash big on high interest rates on loans

18th July 2022
Commercial-banks

Researchers from some government owned regulatory institutions in the financial sector have projected that the banking sector’s profitability could increase, following Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee recent decision to increase monetary policy rate.

In its bid to manage inflation, Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee last month increased monetary policy rate by 0.50 percent from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent, a development which resulted with commercial banking sector increasing interest rate in lending to household and companies. As a result of BoB adjustment of Monetary Policy Rate, from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent commercial banks increased prime lending rate from 5.76 percent to 6.26 percent.

Researchers from Bank of Botswana, the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority, the Financial Intelligence Agency and the Botswana Stock Exchange indicated that due to prospects of high inflation during the second half of 2022, there is a possibility that the Monetary Policy Committee could further increase monetary policy rate in the next meeting in August 25 2022.

Inflation rose from 9.6 percent in April 2022 to 11.9 percent in May 2022, remaining above the Bank of Botswana medium-term objective range of 3 – 6 percent. According to the researchers inflation could increase further and remain high due to factors that include: the potential increase in international commodity prices beyond current forecasts, logistical constraints due to lags in production, the economic and price effects of the ongoing Russia- Ukraine conflict, uncertain COVID-19 profile, domestic risk factors relating to possible regular annual administered price adjustments, short-term unintended consequences of import restrictions resulting with shortages in supplies leading to price increases, as well as second-round effects of the recent increases in administered prices “Furthermore, the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices could add upward pressure to inflation,” said the researchers.

The researchers indicated that Bank of Botswana could be forced to further increase monetary policy rate from the current 2.15 percent if inflation rises persistently. “Should inflation rise persistently this could necessitate an upward adjustment in the policy rate. It is against this background that the interest rate scenario assumes a 1.5 percentage points (moderate scenario) and 2.25 percentage points (severe scenario) upward adjustment in the policy rate,” said the researchers.

The researchers indicated that while any upward adjustment on BoB monetary policy rate and commercial banks prime lending rate result with increase in the cost of borrowing for household and compnies, it increase profitability for the banking sector. “Increases in the policy rate are associated with an overall increase in bank profitability, with resultant increases in the capital adequacy ratio of 0.1 percentage points and 0.2 percentage points for the moderate and severe scenarios, respectively,” said the researchers who added that upward adjustment in monetary policy rate would raise extra capital for the banking sector.

“The increase in profit generally reflects the banking industry’s positive interest rate gap, where interest earning assets exceed interest earning liabilities maturing in the next twelve months. Therefore, an increase of 1.5 percentage points in the policy rate would result in industry gains of P71.7 million (4.1 percent increase), while a 2.25 percentage points increase would lead to a gain of P173.9 million (6.1 percent increase), dominated by large banks,” said the researchers.

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