Botswana - Country Commercial Guide
Mining & Minerals

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-09-29

Overview

Mining has been one of the hardest hit sectors during the COVID pandemic.  However, the sector showed some improvements during the third and fourth quarters of 2020 due to an increase in demand of rough diamonds, and this continued into the first quarter of 2021.  Still, with these challenges, the sector continues to dominate the foreign exchange earnings as it has done for the past four decades, accounting for about 85% (88.2% in 2020) of national foreign exchange earnings, one-third of government revenue, and a quarter of GDP.  Botswana’s mining industry consists mainly of diamonds, and mining currently accounts for approximately a third of government revenue.  Other mined minerals include nickel-copper, coal, soda ash, gold, silver, semi-precious stones, and granite.  Botswana also has untapped uranium, lead, and zinc reserves, which companies are seeking to exploit.  The Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security (MMGE) has pre-qualified bidders for the Coal to Liquid project and, in the current financial year, will contract private sector partners to finance, construct and operate the project.

In 2014, Botswana and Namibia signed an agreement to establish a jointly run company that will supervise the construction of the Trans-Kalahari Railroad.  The project, which has been under consideration for years, is estimated to cost upwards of $15 billion to build and was proposed as the export route for Botswana’s coal reserves, which are estimated at 212 billion tons.  The GoB is looking at converting the project from a coal railway to a multi-commodity line in an effort to attract investors.

U.S.-based companies have captured a sizable portion of the mining equipment market.  Mining equipment is supplied by distributors mainly located in South Africa and recorded as imports from the country of supply and not as imports from the country of origin, hence the understated value of imports from the United States.  All heavy equipment and machinery are imported, as there is no local production or assembly.  Local distributors tend to focus on light industrial, non-specialized equipment for mines, e.g., switches, pumps, and cleaning equipment rather than heavy mining equipment.  Distributors report that mines in Botswana, in general, are interested in purchasing high quality, long-lasting industrial equipment with robust warranties and therefore are less price-sensitive than most industries in the country.

In 2014, the GoB and the Chamber of Mines created a committee to oversee the purchase of mining supplies with a 10% preference towards those produced locally.  Compliance is not legally required but is strongly recommended.  The De Beers Group and its affiliated mines employ this practice, and it is regarded as an industry standard.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

Mining equipment, services, base metal processing, mineral prospecting, and consulting are sub-sector prospects.  Botswana wants to capture more of the diamond production value chain including trading, cutting, and polishing.  There are currently 16 diamond cutting companies; the GoB strategy aims to increase them to 24 companies.

Opportunities

The Diamond Hub (which houses the Diamond Technology Park), established in 2008, aims to attract diamond technology companies and has four areas of concentration:  diamond cutting and polishing, establishing a rough and polished diamond trading facility, developing diamond jewelry manufacturing, and support industries.  In 2016, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), previously OPIC, in partnership with Barclays and Lazare Kaplan, approved the first $125 million loan guaranty facility of its $250 million loan guaranty to stimulate diamond processing in Botswana.  DFC signed the second tranche of $125 million loan guaranty facility with the Standard Bank Group, known as Stanbic Bank in Botswana, in September 2018.  The De Beers Group relocated its diamond sorting and sales facility from the United Kingdom to Botswana.  A SEZ Authority has been set up to streamline investment in sector-targeted geographic areas in the country.  The two Gaborone area SEZs will be multi-use, but will focus on diamond processing and financial services, and the GoB plans to implement these SEZs first under the new policy.  The GoB also plans to operationalize a Selibe-Phikwe SEZ to focus on mineral processing.  The private sector, in partnership with the Botswana Chamber of Mines, is conducting a pre-feasibility study on the processing of copper-to-copper metal.  The study is supported by the Ministry of Minerals, Green Technology, and Energy Security, and if viable, it will result in the construction of a $230 million refinery to be developed through a PPP model.  Another feasibility study is being conducted on bitterns’ beneficiation with the aim to produce Sulphate of Potash (SOP), Sodium Sulphate, and vacuum salt from what is currently the bitterns waste stream.

Opportunities for trade also exist with Debswana mining company as the largest mining company in the country.  In March 2019, Debswana announced the commencement of two new ventures:  Cut-9, to tap into a 40-million-ton ore body at Jwaneng mine extending production to 2034, and Cut-3 for its Orapa mine. 

Resources

  • Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology, and Energy Security
  • Debswana
  • Botswana Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry
  • Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS)
  • Diamond Technology Park