Extractive Industries

Diamonds dominate Botswana’s mineral industry. The below text reports on diamonds and other minerals.

Diamonds

Diamond mining has fuelled much of the country’s expansion and thus dominates the national economy and will continue to be its mainstay for the foreseeable future. In 2007 mining accounted for about 35 per cent of Botswana’s GDP and diamond production contributed about 77 per cent of the value of the mining sector. Botswana was the world’s leading producer of diamond by value and is ranked second in terms of volume after the Russian Federation. Botswana’s gem diamond production accounted for 26.5 per cent of world and 33.8 per cent of African output. Production declined by 3 per cent in 2008 and diamond revenues decreased substantially due to lower diamond prices.

Coal

Eastern Botswana has extensive coal reserves (estimated at 17 billion tonnes) and has the potential to develop and support a coal-bed methane industry and additional coal-fuelled electricity-generating plants.

Other Minerals

Other mineral commodities have held traditionally significant, though smaller, roles in the Botswana national economy. The country registered significant increases in the production of copper (15.7%), gold (16.7%), nickel (26.7%), cobalt (39.2%) and coal (9.8%) but soda ash output declined by nearly 6 per cent in 2008. It was the second largest producer of nickel (after South Africa) and third largest coal producer in Africa. With the Selebi-Phikwe mine due to close in 2011-12 and large nickel projects due to come on stream in Madagascar and Tanzania it will inevitably slip in the nickel production rankings. Botswana is the world’s third largest producer of soda ash (natural sodium carbonate) and has the second largest reserves after the USA. It also produces salt (9th largest producer in Africa) and semiprecious stones, mainly agate and carnelian.