Only production of soda ash went up at the beginning of this year
The country’s diamond production decreased by 12.1 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year, The Botswana Gazette can reveal.
According to Statistics Botswana in their index of the physical volume of mining production Q1 2021, the decline in diamond production was the result of a planned strategy to align production with weaker trading conditions mostly linked to COVID-19 protocols restrictions.
Earlier this year, the world’s leading diamond company, De Beers, also announced that their rough diamond production decreased by 7 percent to 7.2 million carats, driven by operational challenges, including excessive rainfall in southern Africa and a COVID-19-related shutdown in Canada, as well as planned maintenance in Namibia.
“In Botswana, production decreased by 12 percent to 5.0 million carats, driven by a 24 percent reduction at Orapa due to a lower grade feed to the plant in response to heavy rainfall and operational issues, including continued power supply disruptions,” noted De Beers at the time.
Not only did the country experience a decrease in diamond production as gold production also went down by 17.9 percent during Q1 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year. “Similarly, quarter-on-quarter analysis reflects that production decreased by 21.4 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the preceding quarter,” the government statistics agency states.
“The decrease was as a result of the deteriorating lifespan of the mine as well as the impact of COVID-19 which slowed down the mining activities.”
Statistics Botswana further notes that the country’s salt production decreased by 34.0 percent during the period under review, compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Coal production also decreased by 11.2 percent during Q1 2021 compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year.
According to Statistics Botswana the decrease in coal production was attributed to the reduced demand from Morupule B Power Station because of remedial works being undertaken, as one boiler was in operation during the period under review. “Although production fell, it is worth noting that there was no shortfall in supply of coal due to stockpiling,” the government statistics agency states.
Soda ash production is the only that evidenced an increase in the period under review, having risen by 11.1 percent compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Statistics Botswana attributes the increase to effectiveness of the plant following refurbishment which occurred in the third quarter of 2020.
All in all, the country’s index of mining production stood at 74.4 during Q1 2021, showing a year-on-year decrease of 12.0 percent from 84.6 recorded during Q1 2020, according to Statistics Botswana.