His Excellency, Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of Botswana, has acknowledged that 2020 was a very challenging year for the mining sector in Botswana but outlined his government’s intention to rebuild the industry and prioritise expansion into other resources aside from diamonds
Speaking at Mining Indaba 2021, Masisi commented, “This conference is significant as it is being held in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic which has destroyed the world economy. The diamond industry is one of the key sectors that has been severely affected with serious consequences for diamond producing countries like Botswana. Logistic challenges and other issues meant that in some instances the markets for minerals like diamonds were shut down, almost completely resulting in great losses for the industry and others in the value chain. This has diminished revenue in diamond dependent nations such as Botswana and has resulted in a drop in funding for mineral prospecting and development projects.”
Botswana mining is dominated by its diamond production, and in an effort to rejuvenate this sector Masisi outlined the policies his government had undertaken.
He said, “We have started to expand diamond processing beyond cutting and polishing, by introducing alternative and additional diamond supply avenues. This will provide impetus for secondary rough trading and polished trading and other diamond support services. I am happy to invite investors to come and exploit diamond opportunities.”
However, Masisi noted that having an economy so dependent on one commodity means potential problems with market fluctuations. He noted that it was imperative to urgently expand the revenue base of other minerals, such as copper, nickel, silver, coal, gold, and others.
“The development of our wider mineral sector is in full steam, as evidenced by our exploration and mining licences to private companies. The advent of electrical cars has boosted the demand for battery metals and rare earth metals, which are necessary components for a wide range of applications especially high tech products, such as telephones and computer hard drives. My government is undertaking an assessment on several complexes to map and identify mineral occurrences to promote mineral prospecting in Botswana and subsequent mining of these minerals,” Masisi noted.
Botswana has large coal reservoirs, estimated at 212 billion tons, which so far have remained largely unexploited. To change this, Masisi commented, “We have developed a coal road map with eight potential options to increase the contribution of this resource to our economy. These options are classified based on the overall effectiveness with coal exports, power exports and domestic power supply being highly prioritised. This roadmap also promotes sustainable coal mining through the use of clean technologies as we seek to mitigate the effects of climate change.”
“In an effort to develop routes to seaborne markets, my government is working in close collaboration with our neighbours to put in place the necessary infrastructure to facilitate the export of coal.”
Masisi concluded, “I would like to invite all of you to consider Botswana for your future destination of choice, and encourage global mining to continue working together especially during this difficult period to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes for all stakeholders and all players in the industry.”