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Mineral revenues drop 32% to P5bn

MBONGENI MGUNI
Expansion work is due at both, Jwaneng and Orapa Mines
Inflows of mineral revenues to the national purse slowed to P4.9 billion in the first six months of the year, compared to P7.2 billion last year, figures in a Finance Ministry memo have revealed.

The drop comes even though production across the country’s mines was uniformly higher in the first half of the year, pointing to weaknesses in pricing across the board.

At the recent Budget Pitso, the Finance Ministry said it expects mineral revenues to end the 2018-2019 financial year at P20.3 billion, from the original forecast of P24.6 billion. The difference, the Ministry said, would be due largely to government’s commitments to Debswana.

This week, numbers in the memo suggest lower prices per carat received for the diamond mining company’s half year production are part of the cause of lower mineral revenues.

By the half-year mark in 2018, Debswana’s mines had produced 12.1 million carats, up from 11.1 million the previous corresponding period. The diamond giant’s stones, however, sold at an average price of $155/carat, down from $165/carat realised over the corresponding period in 2017.

The Finance Ministry memo indicates that while Debswana sold 10.9 million carats in the first half of this

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year earning $1.5 billion, last year over the same period, the group sold 10.5 million carats and earned $1.6 billion.

The memo, however, says the “diamond market outlook has improved” with sales showing “a positive improvement”.

Half-year production figures at the country’s other mines were all positive, with Lucara’s Karowe Diamond Mine producing 157,200 carats, compared to 122,900 over the same period last year.

Morupule Coal produced 1.2 million tonnes of coal in the first six months of 2018, compared to 1.1 million tonnes last year, with the return of Morupule A and refurbishment of Morupule B expected to boost offtake.

Soda Ash sales were 22% higher in the half-year 2018 at 146,700 tonnes, while salt sales were 16% higher at 181,200 tonnes.

Gold output at Mupane Mine for the first six months of the year was measured at 451.8 kilogrammes, compared to 349.6 kilogrammes over the same period last year.



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