As funding for exploration dwindles
It is increasingly becoming difficult to find another diamond deposits that would sustain the economy forward going as funding for diamond exploration is difficult.
This was said by diamond experts this week at the Resource Sector Conference in a panel discussion which focused on whether Botswana diamonds are forever, and if they can sustain Botswana’s economic success.
Managing Director of Botswana Diamonds Plc, James Campbell, noted that without funding there would be no exploration activities and therefore no new mines to carry the economy forward.
Veteran diamond explorer, Dr Leon Daniels – Diamond Hunter at Pangolin Diamonds – said smaller diamond companies should be enabled to flourish.
“Only five companies in Botswana are doing consistent exploration,” he said, adding that interaction between government and exploration companies is needed to shape the future of the diamond industry in Botswana.
Youth urged to go into polishing
Daniels, who has extensive diamond exploration and production experience that spans over 35 years, said citizens, especially the youth should go into the diamond cutting and polishing industry.
He expressed shock that after many years all the diamond cutting and polishing businesses are still foreign-owned, giving an example of Mauritius which does not have a single diamond mine, but with a thriving and booming cutting and polishing industry.
“What we need is a change in attitude. Young people need to get into the industry of diamond cutting and polishing,” he said.
Daniels said this industry has a lot of benefits and could outlast the mining industry itself, even after production has decreased in years to come as other mining companies could always come here to cut and polish.
Mike de Wit, President and Chief Operating Officer of Tsodilo Resources Ltd, said for Botswana to maintain its position as a key diamond producer, another diamond deposit should be found.
He said the industry is deprecating with major diamond mines locally, Jwaneng and Orapa Mines left with 50 and 25 years respectively in their live span, adding that 25 years in mining is not much.
De Wit said there has been a depreciation in the industry and sadly nothing not much is being added to sustain it.
P17.1 billion dividends
The country’s economy continues to be dependent on mineral revenue and according to minerals minister, Eric Molale, government collected P17.1 billion through dividends and royalties and taxes in the 2017/18 financial year.
Molale said in this regard, government is determined to constantly improve its polices so as to ensure that the country becomes investors’ destination of choice.
“My Ministry plans to bring before Parliament, the Minerals Policy for Botswana for approval. This is a Policy that we have taken the past three years working on, and whose aim is to improve the investment climate in the minerals sector,” he said.
Molale said the ministry is aware of various delays in issuing mining permits and licenses and will work towards trying to streamline government permit approvals for mineral resources companies.
“The main area of concern for companies seems to be the period taken to approve Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). We will work together with the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, to assess if the process can be shortened,” said the minister.