Ukwazi Views

Ukwazi | Navigating Energy Mineral Demand In Botswana

Consultants can help country navigate energy minerals demand

Article written by Cameron Mackay at Mining Weekly

Owing to the increasing amount of mining activity expected in Botswana – particularly amid increasing demand for minerals such as coal and battery metals – specialist mining services provider Ukwazi mining and mineral project valuator Alan Clegg stress the need for consultants to provide specialist services for the burgeoning industry.

“There’s a growing need for these services. As junior miners, in particular, go further down the mine development track and have a growing need to raise capital, specialist consultants, such as Ukwazi, are crucial. We have local knowledge working in Southern Africa, and are well regarded on international stock exchanges.”

Clegg emphasises that Botswana has the necessary potential to become a Tier-1 mining jurisdiction.

While the country’s mineral production was previously dominated by diamond production, he notes that there has recently been a resurgence in the country’s junior mining sector, with the sector contributing to mining exploration spend that will diversify Botswana’s mineral production.

He attributes this diversification, besides other factors, to the country’s efficient and transparent regulatory environment for mining projects.

“Botswana has typically been in the top 20 countries globally for mining, and it has certainly been rated as one of the top mining investment jurisdictions in Africa. It’s simple to communicate with the Botswana Chamber of Mines, and they tend to have experienced professionals who work in the bureaucratic service.”

Australian junior miners, for instance, have focused on developing base metal and energy metal projects in Botswana, particularly copper.

Several junior miners are actively conducting exploration projects, which are at or near discovery stage, in the Kalahari copper belt, indicating the development of a number of new mines in the area, adds Clegg.

Clegg also stresses the emergence of the Kalakari Suture Zone, in south-western Botswana, which is highly prospective for currently sought-after metals such as nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum-group metals.

This is in addition to the Tati greenstone belt, in north-eastern Botswana, which is being targeted by diversified explorer and developer Power Metal Resources, which is prospecting for gold and nickel discoveries in the region.

A component of the strong outlook for the national mining sector is the Botswana Stock Exchange, which is “open for business in terms of mining listings”, says Clegg.

This has also encouraged international miners to double list – in their country of origin and in Botswana.

Energy Metals and Baseload Power

While battery and energy related metals are set to become vital commodities for Botswana’s mining sector, Clegg highlights the challenges in the country and the broader Southern African Development Community (SADC) in terms of energy supply.

“The two candidates for replacing the prominence of diamonds are going to be battery metals and coal. Both are linked to the energy deficit in the SADC region.

“Botswana and the SADC region need baseload power if they’re to develop economically, for which wind and solar power generation won’t be sufficient.”

Botswana is well situated to link into the grid for the entire SADC region, owing to the presence of minerals such as coal and other energy- and battery-related metals, as well as ideal conditions for renewable-energy generation such as solar photovoltaic (PV).

The country is also a key member of the Southern Africa Power Pool, which is key as energy becomes a more crucial market globally, Clegg adds.

He adds that, as Botswana’s resource sector continues to develop mines, the sector will require sustainable and reliable power.

“Many mines are developing a diverse power mix, where they will take power from the grid. There’s also new transmission infrastructure being built in the country.”

Despite the need for coal-fired energy, Clegg emphasises that there are opportunities for the country and its mining sector to capitalise on, including wind and solar PV energy generation in mining operations.

Ukwazi Presence

Ukwazi has been active in Botswana’s mining sector for about 15 years, and has been active in a range of commodity sectors, including diamonds and coal, as well as base and energy metals.

Clegg adds that Ukwazi has provided specialist services – such as developing concepts, and engineering, prefeasibility and feasibility studies – for mine projects in the country, particularly in collaboration with energy company Shumba Energy.

The company has been involved in coal projects that Shumba Energy is involved with.

This includes the Mabesekwa Export Independent Power Plant project near Francistown, the Morupule South Independent Power Producer project near Palapye, and the Sechaba Coal Independent Power Producer project near the Morupule Thermal power station.

Ukwazi is also involved in providing its services to battery metal projects in the country.

“Ukwazi has developed a tremendous skills base in the country, and can cover the whole value chain, from exploration up to mine closure.

“Botswana is well endowered in environmental, social and stakeholder areas of mine management, prioritising the use of local people who are qualified under local regulations. Ukwazi tends to use a partnership model when operating in the country,” he concludes.

Article originally published on Mining Weekly.

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