Botswana has previously been rated the best mining environment on the continent. In 2020, the mining sector in Botswana and around the world took a knock from the COVID-19 pandemic, with projects being put on hold, much production and trade halted, metal and mineral prices dropping, and thousands of jobs lost. However, in Botswana as with many other countries, all of this is changing as operations have slowly resumed with social distancing and hygiene measures in place, and the mining industry in Botswana has been making a steady recovery since late in 2020. Metal prices have soared globally and are likely to remain high, averaging higher prices in 2021 that are expected to grow every year (excepting iron ore) thanks to the recovery of the world economy. The rollout of vaccines also means operations in mines worldwide will soon be able to continue as productively as they were before the pandemic, unhindered by the coronavirus. With the mining industry bouncing back, Botswana has several mining projects back in operation, as well as ones that are just getting started, and the future of the industry is looking bright for the country. Here are the mining projects in Botswana to watch in 2021 that are helping to grow the nation’s economy.

Botswana Mines to Watch in 2021


A view of the Khoemacau Project. Source: The Wrap Botswana, Facebook
Situated in the Kalahari Copper Belt and spearheaded and owned by Cupric Canyon Capital, the Khoemacau Copper Project is the country’s latest and only operational copper mine, and Botswana’s first highly mechanised mine operation. It will be producing silver along with copper. It is expected to begin production in mid-2021 upon completion of its construction. It is estimated that it will yield around 1.9 Moz of silver and 60 000 tonnes of copper metal from 160 000 tonnes of high-grade concentrate per annum. Cupric Canyon Captial’s goal is to double production in the long term. The Khoemacau Copper Mine has been developed from the Zone 5 underground mine which has been expanded for the project. So far, the project has drilled 1.2km downwards into the sulphide material of the ore body.


Jwaneng Diamond Mine. Source: Debswana Diamond Company, Facebook
The Jwaneng diamond mine, located in south-central Botswana, remains the richest diamond mine on Earth in terms of value. It is currently undergoing a large project to expand it by 360km, which is expected to prolong the life of the mine no earlier than 2034. This will make Jwaneng the world’s biggest diamond mine. The open-pit mine, which extends 400m downwards, is owned by the Debswana Diamond Company which was founded as a partnership between De Beers and the Botswanan government. It is responsible for 70% of Debswana’s profits.


Orapa Mine. Source: Debswana Diamond Company, Facebook
Also under the ownership of the Debswana Diamond Company, the Orapa mine currently mines at a 250m depth, which it plans to extend to 450m by 2026. It is the oldest of the company’s four mines and the world’s ninth-largest diamond mine. Orapa is currently working towards becoming a carbon-neutral mine by shifting to renewable energy. It has already adopted solar energy as the power source for its administration block as part of this move. It plans to move towards green technology and complete several projects towards carbon neutrality by the year 2030 to make its exploitation of minerals sustainable. This has received much praise from Polson Majaga, the chairperson of Botswana’s Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Wildlife, Tourism, Natural Resources, and Climate Change, who recently toured the mine and learned of its plans to lighten its footprint.


The Lesedi La Rona diamond. Source: Lucara Diamond Corporation, Facebook
The famous Karowe diamond mine maintains its status as the source of four of the ten largest diamonds on Earth ever documented, including a diamond that sold for $53 million, the 1 109 carat Lesedi La Rona, and the biggest diamond discovered in Botswana, the 1 758 carat Sewelô. This is even more impressive as the mine only started production eight years ago. Lucara Diamond, the diamond exploration and mining company that owns the open pit Karowe mine, has secured an approximate $220-million project financing debt package to go towards lengthening the life of the mine until at least 2040 as well as undertaking an underground expansion project for the mine.


The Kalahari Copper Belt where the South Ghanzi Project is being carried out. Source: Kavango Resources PLC
The South Ghanzi Project, an exploration project in the Kalahari Copper Belt which is centred on copper-silver deposits and has been going for over a year, is a strategic joint venture shared equally between companies Kavango Resources PLC and Power Metal Resources, and things are looking positive. Airborne electromagnetic surveys carried out earlier in 2021 over the South Ghanzi Project found promising results. Many airborne electromagnetic anomalies were found, and seven conductive anomalies, which indicate potential targets for drilling, were identified. These results correlated with past fieldwork done.


Motheo is Morupule Coal Mine’s expansion project and involves the construction of an open-cast coal mine, coal washing plant, and related infrastructure in central Botswana. This is expected to grow the mine’s yearly output to 3.8 million tonnes, 35% more than its current yield per annum. The mine currently has more than 1 000 years’ worth of coal stores. It supplies two power stations close by while some of its produce is exported to Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe from its annual 2.8 million-tonne yield.