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Lucura Q1 sales impressive

Keikantse Lesemela

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Lucara Diamond Corporation has recorded an impressive and improved performance with 0.76 million tonnes ore in its Karowe mine during the first quarter of 2019 and the first sales of the year exceeded US$ 47 million.

The company also recovered an unbroken 1,758 carat diamond which is larger than the 1.109 world’s second largest diamond, Lesedi La Rona, which was recovered from Karowe in 2015. During the period the company sold several diamonds larger than 10.8 carats which resulted in quarterly sales revenue of $48.7 million compared to $25.4 million in the same period last year.Lucara President and Chief Executive Officer, Eira Thomas, highlighted that they expect the total stones mined in 2019 to be between 8.5 and 11.8million tonnes.

“While guidance is unchanged, the average strip ratio is now expected to be lower than originally anticipated due to a higher percentage of ore mined during the first quarter of 2019,” she said.
The operating cost for three -months period was 30.52 per tonne, a decrease from $39.97 per tonne in the first quarter of 2018. Thomas explained that operating cash cost per tonne processed was positively impacted by a reduction in waste mined and an increase in tonnes processed during the first quarter.

“Lucara’s focus on operational excellence has delivered another strong quarter, having met guidance with respect to ore mined and processed as well as carats produced. Costs were significantly down quarter over quarter in line with expectations,” said Thomas.

She pointed out that in 2019 the company forecasts revenue between $170 million and $200 million, consistent with the forecast for 2018. In 2019, diamonds recovered are expected to be between 300 000 carats and 330 000 carats and diamonds sold are expected to be between 300 000 and 320 000 carats. The company has approved a budget of $14.8 million evaluating the potential for an underground mining operation at Karowe. “In 2019 efforts will focus on follow up geotechnical and hydro geological drilling and related studies. Exploration expenditures are estimated to be up to $3.0 million”.

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Gov’t swiftly acts on BMC

Koobonye Ramokopelwa

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Government has moved swiftly to place Botswana Meat Commission under the care of a management firm; the move is meant to put the Commission into shape both operationally and financially.

This was disclosed by Finance and Economic Development Minister, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, further stating the BMC is technically insolvent despite having received nearly P1billion as a bailout in recent times. The new management company will run BMC, which is based in Lobatse starting on the 2020/2021 financial year.

The finance minister made it crystal clear that, the move to appoint a caretaker firm for BMC was made to protect the interests of all stakeholders, including farmers. According to Matsheka, the Minister of Agriculture Development and Food Security, Dr Edwin Dikoloti will provide more details on the BMC changes in due course during his committee of supply speech. Government is also proceeding with the conversion of BMC to a company under the Companies Act following the approval of BMC Transition Bill and subsequent repeal of the old Act.

The repealing of the BMC Act has since eliminated the monopoly of the Commission when it comes to beef and cattle export. The repeal has also enabled government to establish a beef regulator which will be responsible for regulating the beef and the cattle sector. “Another aspect of the transition is the ultimate privatization of BMC.

The objective of the privatization of BMC is, among others, to engage the private sector in the ownership and management of the BMC to achieve operational efficiency and profitability, as well as reduce Government’s future financial commitments in the entity. This would be an important process in the transformation of the beef and cattle sector,” noted Matsheka. BMC which is 100 percent owned by government has been operating with losses for many years due to internal and external challenges such as poor supply and Foot and Mouth Disease(FMD).

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BSE invite companies for CSD project

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Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) has intentions to implement a new Central Securities Depository (CSD) system by the second quarter of next year.

Authorities at the bourse have already put out a call for companies to perform a post migration data verification and quality assessment from the current depository system to a new depository system set to go live in the first half of 2020.“As part of the project, the BSE is to migrate master data and reference data from the current system to the new CSD system,” said BSE in a statement released this week.

According to BSE, the project will include comprehension of the BSE Data Migration Strategy and Plan and data mapping design and rules, review of the data migration ETL processes, data quality verification completeness, accuracy, consistency, definition and scope of data to migrate. In addition, BSE said it will migrate only active or open transactions in the current system to the new system. The scope of open transactions includes active or running corporate actions, active investor accounts, investor account balances above zero, active participants, active issuers and active instruments.

Meanwhile, BSE Chief Executive Officer, Thapelo Tsheole is on record citing that the new CSD system comes with functionalities such as securities borrowing and lending (SBL), management of the settlement guarantee fund, initial public offering (IPO) processing, e-voting for listed entities, repo management and online investor access.

Commenced in the first quarter of 2019, the project is also an integral element of the ongoing single CSD project pioneered by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority and BSE.

The system is also expected to help increase the CSD system ratings by Thomas Murray, an assessment of which will be conducted once the system has been commissioned in early 2020.

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