Coal and iron ore conference next month

Botswana will on the 24-26 March host the coal and iron ore industry under the theme Coal and Iron Ore Botswana. The conference, which is expected to attract more than 100 delegates from across the world, aims to sensitise the communities around the world about the developments in the coal and iron ore scenarios in Botswana. The event, which is in its third, will be hosted at Gaborone the International Convention Center.

In the past, the conference focused on coal, but this year it will be expanded to include iron ore due to the similarities they possess in terms of bulk commodities. “The coal resource in Botswana is quite huge – at over 200 billion tonnes, it is the second largest in Africa coming behind the South Africa resource. The iron ore discoveries in this country are of international standard and there is a need to start commenting on these resources in the international market to see if there are interested foreign investors for this iron ore or indeed off takers that might need this resource,” Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Chamber of Mines, Charles Siwawa said when responding to a Gazette Business questionnaire.

He added that,  “the benefits of the conference cannot be measured on a short term basis, but you want to be looking more in the long term through investment in more exploration activities and moving on to mining license applications. The true benefits on the ground will be when we see employment creation through opening of mines and associated industries.”

He further noted that there have been success in terms of objectives to disseminate information on Botswana coal and how this resource can be converted into revenue. “Certainly a lot of enquiries are coming through from the international market in terms of how they can participate in the Botswana coal scenario,” he said.

Conference director, Vanessa Leyka was quoted in the Coal and Iron Ore Botswana brochure as saying Botswana continues on its journey to diversify its mining sector by implementing economic diversification strategies to reduce its dependence on diamond income. “With a committed government, the country is now on the path to monetize the large coal and iron ore reserves with the goal of becoming one of the leading exporters to the global market and a regional power hub,” she said.

She was quoted further as saying; “In addition to actively working on creating the infrastructure to export these resources, the country is also considering alternative technologies and methods such as Coal to power, Coal to liquid, and Coal to gas as well as exploring iron ore for domestic consumption. While there are a number of challenges for implementing these initiatives, the benefits of overcoming these hurdles will be extremely lucrative over the long-term.”