Botswana Ash (Botash) Pty Limited’s financial books are about to get a major boost following revelations that the mining entity is scheduled to open a fertiliser manufacturing company in the next few years.
This is after the salt and soda ash mining giant entered into an exclusive arrangement late last year with a Canadian mineral exploration company, Great Quest Metals Ltd focused on the development of African agricultural mineral projects for local production of farm ready fertiliser.
Listed on both the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol GQ and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange under the symbol GQM, Great Quest Metals has got flagship asset in Tilemsi Phosphate Project, encompassing 1 206 square metres in northeast of Mali.
Like the northeastern part of Mali that contains high quality phosphate resources amenable to use as direct application fertiliser, Botswana’s Sua Pan Brownfield potash is of high quality to manufacture potassium resource.
Botash and Great Quest will jointly develop the potash brine potential of Sua Pan salar (salt pan) in the country. The development, that is currently on feasibility stage, is expected to be the first ever fertiliser manufacturing company in the southern Africa.
“It will be the first of its kind in the SADC region,” Botash Managing Director Montwedi Mphathi in an interview with The Patriot on Sunday.
Without stating the exact time frame, Mphathi said the fertiliser plant will be set up in the next few years. He said there is going to be a number of business activities taking shape in the Sowa Township with the fertiliser company being one of them.
Mphathi said the venture will be a viable one bearing in mind that there is no company doing a similar manufacturing business in Africa.
“All the potassium and micronutrient organics are imported outside Africa,” said Mphathi, adding that the products are on high demand in the agricultural sector. He said the micronutrient product is needed to ensure that yields are maximised.
According to Mphathi, the setting up of a fertiliser manufacturing company will definitely boost the mining entity’s financial books. The expectation is that the envisaged company will create full time and long-term employment opportunities for not less than a 1000 people.
Botash operates a brine recovery operation for sodium carbonate (soda ash) and sodium chloride (table salt) on the salar, a facility that started operation in 1991. Significant concentrations of potash (potassium chloride (KCl) and potassium sulfate (K2SO4)) have been recorded in the brines of Sua Pan, but have never been recovered commercially.
Great Quest will begin a program to evaluate the economic potential of potash recovery from the native brines, the Botash mine effluent and the historical mine tailings.