Citizen beneficiation may soon become a reality in Botswana following government’s initiation of a new mining policy which is expected to improve the participation of citizens in the mining industry.
Last week, the Director of Diamond Hub Diana Moabe told investors at the Botswana Resource Sector Conference in Gaborone that Mineral Development Minister Sadique Kebonang will table the policy during next month’s parliament sitting.
According to Moabe, this new mining policy is made in light of the fact that the industry is dominated by foreigners, and currently struggling to grow and needs to be turned around. “Government is also aware that the playing field is not level for citizens and foreigners and the trend challenges the same government to do something to ensure equal participation. Talks have already started to have more citizens participating in the industry. We are aware that citizens won’t be able to participate at the same level as foreigners due to shallow pockets,” she said, noting that to achieve citizen participation and benefits, government should ensure that citizens who invest in the mining industry have access to global distributors and markets.
On top of diamond cutting, Moabe explained that government wants to raise the profile of diamond beneficiation and expand it by introducing jewellery manufacturing: “We want to pay attention to jewellery manufacturing. We understand that jewellery is highly specialized industry and we won’t be able to grow it overnight. We don’t expect the industry to reach the stage of India and China in a short space of time but that’s where we want to move and we are committed to put the entire required framework to facilitate the establishment of the industry.”
Reports show that since 2015, there has been low utilization of rough diamonds and this frustrates government efforts to improve beneficiation and to increase utilization of rough diamonds, the policy advocates for increased diamond cutting and polishing.
Government has indicated that the policy is also advocating for employment creation and is expected to address issues of training and capacity building to ensure that citizens are ready to work in the mining industry. Botswana is one of the countries with high unemployment and commentators insist that new government policies must bring about job creation.