SELEBI-PHIKWE: A German delegation was in Selebi-Phikwe last week Thursday to explore opportunities that exists in this town and the region.
The delegation visited the offices of Selebi-Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) before proceeding to the BCL Mine concentrator, smelter and Selebi North Shaft. The visit was organised by the Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA).
Addressing the delegation, SPEDU Project Manager, Theodore Seemule said the unit has done studies for opportunities that exist in the region that will secure the survival of Selebi-Phikwe and the surrounding region, beyond the closure of BCL Mine.
He said that can be done through actions and initiatives which will bring sustainable new employment and investment to the town and hence broaden and underpin its economic and social base. The Germans' visit comes after the SPEDU national conference that was held last month which was meant to come up with a robust action plan and a national commitment on implementing the programme.
Seemule said SPEDU has approved and adopted the study of the Letsibogo tourism projects. "The study has shown that there is tourism potential in the region. The other tourism projects that exist in the region are the Tswapong hills, Dikgathong dam and the Anne Adams Park among others.
The water in Letsibogo dam can be used for fish farming or setting up of a yacht club," said Seemule. He said other studies that have been done are on horticulture, agro processing and heavy engineering. He explained that the engineering study was done primarily around the use of BCL capital investment. Seemule went on to inform the potential investors that the aim of the diversification unit to is turn this town into an education hub and they also want Selebi-Phikwe
He mentioned that two organisations with international ties have indicated an interest in developing the aquaculture sector within the region. He said SPEDU has also done studies in the dairy and poultry sectors.
BCL Mine General Manager, Montwedi Mphathi said they are still optimistic that the life of the mine will expand beyond 2013. He explained that the proven reserves that they have at the moment can only take the mine up to 2013. "We cannot clearly say that the mine will shut operations in 2013.
The mine life span can expand because we have massive explorations on going and the exploration has led to the discovery of a new shaft. The exploration is meant to replenish our ore reserves," Mphathi said. He told the investors that their target this year is to produce 2.8 Million tonnes of ore.
For his part, Marketing and Metals Support Manager, Gerry Ndlovu said the mine produces lots of sulphur dioxide. He explained that the gas can be used to produce sulphuric acid. He mentioned that the study for the production of the acid has been completed. Ndlovu interested the Germans in setting up a sulphuric acid plant in Selebi-Phikwe.
One of the investors, Swein Weiner, representing Herrenknecht Company said they have long had interest in investing in Southern Africa especially in Botswana. He said he was impressed by the developments that he has seen and enjoyed the way BCL Mine was doing business. He mentioned that though they are not a familiar name in Botswana, they are active in South Africa.