Botswana’s mining sector woes hit an all-time low
By Mpho Tebele
Gaborone – The future of Botswana’s mining sector hangs in the balance as eight mines were closed since 2010, shedding more than 7,500 jobs in the process, according to a report compiled by the Ministry of Mineral Resources.
With a population of less than 2 million, the number of jobs lost in the last seven years is a great concern to the authorities. Botswana is dependent on the mining sector and it earns the bulk of its revenue from the same sector.
Minister of Minerals, Sadique Kebonang, informed Parliament through a report compiled by his ministry that some of the mines are still placed under liquidation while others have been reopened.
While Kebonang would not say how many out of the 7,593 people, who had lost their jobs since 2010, were absorbed when some mines were reopened, he said job losses due to closures was a burden to the country’s ailing economy.
Mowana Copper Mine, which was owned by Messina Copper Botswana, was liquidated and closed in 2015 and shed 500 jobs. Kebonang said futures plans for the mine is that it was transferred to a company called Leboam Holdings and resumed operation on April 2017.
Yet another mine called Boseto owned by Discovery Metals Limited was closed in December 2014. He said the mine was since sold to a company called Khoemacau in 2015. Kimberly Diamonds saw its Lerala Mine being closed and placed under maintenance care in April 2017. Liquidation process for this mine is ongoing and 151 jobs have since been lost, he said.
Kebonang said Tati Nickel Mine owned by BCL Group of Companies was placed under liquidation in October 2016 resulting in 764 jobs being lost while BCL Mine was also placed under liquidation and shed 5,134 jobs.
The minister further stated that BK11 Diamond Mine owned by Monak Ventures was closed in 2012 and 165 employees lost their jobs while Ghaghoo Diamond Mine owned by Gem Diamonds Botswana closed in March 2017 and 263 jobs were lost in the process.
Damtshaa Mine owned by Debswana closed in 2015 and reopened in October 2017 and did not shed jobs, as its employees were transferred to other mines owned by the same company.
The mining sector in Botswana has dominated the national economy since the early 1990s. Diamonds have been the leading component of the minerals sector since large-scale diamond production began 25 years ago. Most of Botswana’s diamond production was of gem quality, which resulted to the country assuming the position of the world’s leading producer of diamonds by value. Copper, gold,, nickel and soda ash production also has traditionally played, though on a smaller scale, roles in the national economy.