Copper back as one of Botswana’s mainstay export commodities

The Projects | Base Metals

Copper, one of Botswana’s first export mineral commodities in early years of economic development, is back in the bracket of cash spinning products for the landlocked country.

Statistics Botswana, the country’s central data body, has captured for the first time copper as one of the country’s major exports commodities since 2016, clocking over P370 million in a single month of August 2021.

In 2016, Botswana’s flagship copper and nickel producing group — BCL, was placed on liquidation, and a smaller operation — Mowana Copper Mine was also shut down two years later.

In their August 2021, International Merchandise Trade figures, Statistics Botswana reports that Botswana exported merchandise for the month was valued at P6.98 billion.

The diamonds group continued to roar second to none, accounting for 85.7 percent (P5.986 billion), followed by Copper & Nickel and Machinery & Electrical Equipment with 5.3 percent (P370.6 million) and 2.3 percent (P157.6 million), respectively.

“The contribution in Copper & Nickel group is solely attributable to Copper & Copper Concentrates which are mined by a new company that started exporting during July 2021,” Statistics Botswana noted.

The new company that started exporting in July 2021 is Khoemacau Copper Mining, and is currently the only copper producing and exporting operation in Botswana.

In July 2021 Copper & Nickel commodity group accounted for 1.1% (P83.6 million) of Botswana’s total exports which were valued at P7.605 billion. The August Copper exports represents a jump of over 300% from 83.6 million to P370 million.

Khoemacau Copper Mine, which unearths these base metals from the Kalahari Copper Belt, was officially commissioned by President Masisi in July this year.

The company is expected to contribute approximately, one hundred and nineteen billion Pula (P119 billion) to the GDP, with an estimated average annual tax revenue of over one billion Pula (P1 Billion) during the 22-year lifespan of the mine.

However, the Khoemacau backed return of copper is just the beginning, another magnificent story is unfolding, still along the Kalahari Copper Belt, a multi-billion pula project by Australian Sandfire Resources is taking shape. The mining license has been awarded, and the company has contracted African Mining Services to develop the assets into a world-class open cast operation.

In the North East of Botswana, Mowana Copper mine near Dukwi is also coming back to life. Mauritius MP Mining has taken over the operation that was placed under care and maintenance in 2018, production is expected to return soon.

In Selibe Phikwe, the spiritual home ground of Botswana’s copper industry, shafts and tunnels are rising from the ashes — Premium Nickel Resources Botswana, a company backed by Canadian money, led by former  BCL talisman Montwedi Mphathi is on the ground to return what used to be the country’s second-largest private sector employer,  back to commercial glory.

The company has acquired some assets from the BCL Liquidator. However, the new operation will be different, using the latest technologies, and different mining methods.

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