Rough diamond producer, Debswana has awarded Majwe Mining a multi-billion Pula tender for the company’s Cut 9 project which is expected to lengthen Jwaneng mine’s lifespan by a further 15 years, The Midweek Sun has learnt.
Debswana has made it known that investment in the project clearly shows commitment in the local diamond industry. Cut 9 comes hot on the heels of Cut 8 which also extended Jwaneng mine lifespan. Chairman of Debswana board of directors, Bruce Cleaver said the fresh capital injection into Jwaneng mine, the world’s number one rough diamond mine by value, could not have come at a better time where demand is poised to surpass supply.
“The extension of Jwaneng Mine secures Botswana’s rightful place as a leading diamond producing nation for years to come. With global consumer demand for diamonds reaching record levels in 2018, the extension will enable us to continue to meet the needs of our consumers all over the world. We are deeply proud of the central role Jwaneng Mine has played in Botswana’s remarkable development story and of the role this investment will play in its future,” said an excited Cleaver, also De Beers Chief Executive.
The project which is expected to commence anytime soon, following the 2019 budget will create more than 1,000 jobs at its peak, the majority of which will be held by Batswana. The project will cost a whopping P15, 7 billion. Debswana Managing Director, Albert Milton who is the immediate Jwaneng Mine Chief noted that they have always delivered safe projects which benefits locals.
“We are also committed to delivering on the Citizen Economic Empowerment (CEE) goals and will focus on training our people, developing their skills and harnessing technology to create further safety and efficiency improvements,” added Milton, who has been with Debswana for decades. Debswana is a joint venture between De Beers and Botswana government. During the course of the contract, there will be the establishment of an Apprentice and Artisan Training Centre in addition to a Component Rebuild Centre, which is expected to mature into a self-sustaining business within three years from the launch of the project.
Jwaneng is Debswana’s biggest mine by any measure. When updating stakeholders last Friday, Milton said as a result of a surge in diamond demand, the group also increased its production by 6 percent year on year to stand at 24.1 million carats.
Botswana Railways hit by fuel theft
Botswana Railways lost fuel business due to continuous incidents of stolen fuel from the tanks and delays mainly at Mafikeng, in the north Western side of South Africa.
Botswana Railways Chief Executive Officer Leonard Makwinja said, during 2017/2018, their biggest failure was in this area. “Our biggest failure in this aspect was on imports, transporting of fuel from South Africa proved to be a challenge.
There have been incidents of fuel loss on tankers, sometimes a delay in Mafikeng when trains changed and when it arrives in Botswana the tank would be half empty, “said Makwinja. He said this was worsened by allegations that road transportation was cheaper. Currently, they have employed a fuel consultant to look into the whole fuel transportation. “We believe a solution will be found soon.”
The BR Chief explained they heavily rely on the relationship with Transnet to successfully execute its freight mandate. Most of the imports through rail come from South Africa and the main export through rail which is salt and soda ash is transported from Botash to Mafikeng. “Going onwards we have to depend on Transnet for connections to the respective destinations. Our strategic plan going forward is to improve our services to the oil companies so that we are more reliable, timely and profitable.”
During the period, Makwinja said they had to focus on cost containment. The main cost drivers are staff cost, fuel and maintenance of the locomotives. In his statement on Botswana Railways 2018 annual report, Makwinja said the organization’s performance was subdued due to lack of capacity to meet the demand. “In terms of tonnage, our target was 2 million tons but we only achieved 1, 5 million tons. This adverse variance can be attributed to a number of factors including lack of sufficient locomotives and practicing conservative business initiatives and marketing,” he said.
Calls to improve crop yields with technology
Greenhouse Technologies managing director, Amanda Masire has urged entrepreneurs to venture into agriculture as it is a lucrative business and more beneficial to the national economic development, despite climate change challenges.
Speaking to Business Trends, Masire said there is a need for more training and knowledge on modern agriculture technologies for the country to have sustainable food production. “I am passionate about agriculture and food production. I want to help my country to produce food for itself and reduce dependency on imports. I have learnt that despite all the challenges of climate change, we can still produce our own food through the use of modern technologies,” said Masire.
Masire is an agri-business developer, specializing in horticulture, beekeeping and fish farming. She currently operates Greenhouse Farmers Academy offering training and mentorship on horticulture farming. “Agriculture is the most lucrative business that young people should be looking into. Currently, we depend much on South Africa. We should rise up and develop the sector because as Batswana we have rich land that we are not utilising.” Her services include horticulture starter kit, which includes business plans, lessons, fertilisers and all equipments necessary for a particular horticulture project.
She is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security to develop the ISPAAD Program. She said government would embrace modern farming technologies to improve food production. “Most Batswana have lands which they are currently not ploughing because of climate change conditions while the government gives out fertilizers and seeds every year to subsistence farmers yet there is no yield. I have come up with solutions, which include testing soil and supplying lime treatment to reduce acidity. This will help improve crop yield when adopted with other technologies,” she said.
Speaking during Stanbic Lionness Lean In Africa, Masire said with the challenges in the agriculture sector, Batswana should stop looking much into the problems and getting discouraged but should rather think of solutions. “Government is trying but we individuals also need to be innovative and assist government in improving food security. Young people should take opportunity of the agri-business market and reduce unemployment,” said Masire.