Botswana has retained its lead status as the most preferred mining and minerals investment destination in Africa, according to an authoritative analysis of prime mining environments among 72 regions and countries sampled.
This marks the fifth year in a row Botswana has been ranked first in Africa since 2005/06.
Released last week, the Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2009/10 represents the views of 670 mining executives operating in the 72 jurisdictions and representing the cream of exploration, development and mining entities. The respondents, from every continent except Antarctica, were asked to rank countries on 15 performance indicators, aggregating responses to an overall index. This year, Quebec, a Canadian province, grabbed top honours with an overall aggregate score of 96.7, followed by New Brunswick (Canadian province), Finland, Alberta (Canadian province) and Nevada (American state). Other jurisdictions in the top ten include Chile, South Australia and several other Canadian states.
Botswana retained its number one ranking in Africa, but slipped to 21st worldwide, having been placed 18 in the 2008/09 survey. However, the country improved its overall aggregate score from 64.9 last year, to 66.5 percent for 2009/10. The country outperformed several developed nations and regions such as several Australian and American states, New Zealand, Spain, Norway, China, Russia and Brazil.
In Africa, Botswana emerged ahead of Mali, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Namibia and Tanzania. African economic powerhouse, South Africa, was ranked eighth in Africa and 61st in the world with a score of 26.2, down from 40.4 last year. South Africa slipped 12 spots from its ranking in the 2008/09 survey.
According to the Survey, respondents ranked Botswana highly across nearly all performance indicators, with the country ranking first worldwide in several categories. Botswana ranked first worldwide in certainty of administration, interpretation and enforcement of existing regulations, certainty of environmental regulations, lack of regulatory duplication and inconsistencies and taxation regime. The country also ranked first in Africa for political stability, security, labour regulations and certainty concerning which areas will be protected as parks/wilderness areas.
Respondents praised Botswana's performance, particularly its administration, interpretation and enforcement of existing regulations. According to data compiled by the survey's researchers, all respondents for Botswana indicated that the country has the most favourable policies towards mining.
"In southern Africa, Botswana seems to be the only country that truly understands the importance of mining investment to its economy. Legislation is stable and a deal made is a deal honoured," said the manager of a mining company with more than US$50 million (P335 million) turnover.
The president of an exploration company said: "Botswana lacks red and green tape," alluding to the ease of bureaucratic and environmental processes. The country, however, ranked average in categories such as uncertainty concerning native land claims, infrastructure, socio-economic agreements/community development conditions, availability of geological database, and supply of labour/skills.
By comparison, Mali performed well in the native land claims category, while South Africa narrowly pipped Botswana in the infrastructure performance indicator. South Africa was also ranked first in Africa for its largesse of geological data and supply of labour/skills.
The 2009/10 survey also revealed increased optimism about the mining industry's recovery, following last year's recession.
"Survey responses indicate both dramatically decreased investment plans last year and a strong recovery this year. Almost twice as many mining companies say they will increase exploration budgets compared to those who say budgets will remain the same or decrease.
"Miners also expect mineral prices will increase over the next two years, with 64 percent expecting moderate increases and 20 percent expecting substantial increases," Fraser Institute Researchers said.
The survey indicates that most miners expect higher prices of copper, gold, silver and nickel, while fewer respondents expect higher prices for platinum, zinc and coal. Only 2.91 percent of respondents expect higher prices of diamonds.
The Fraser Institute, an independent Canadian research organisation, has conducted the annual survey since 1997, to assess how mineral endowments and public policy factors such as taxation and regulation affect exploration investment.