BOTASH is embarking on a massive diversification drive in an effort to increase the life span of the mine. Acting Chief Executive Officer at the Sowa Town based soda and ash mining giant, Kangagwani Phatshwane, says the operation is set to diversify to increase viability through beneficiation while also creating an ecotourism environment that will remain even after the mine reaches its lifespan.
Speaking during Business Botswana Northern Trade Fair award ceremony over the weekend, in Francistown, Phatshwane noted that movements in legislation, which are driven all the way from the United Nations to the individual governments, present enormous business opportunities for BOTASH as they are part of the solutions that will allow industry to continue to operate sustainably.
Phatshwane said the resource at the mine is abundantly rich and carries signatures of many other chemical products. “As BOTASH, we are developing technologies to be able to bring some of these products to market as well; we have actually started importing from overseas to prepare the market, both locally and in South Africa, because our eventual production is sodium carbonate which really has been helped by legislation which is moving towards a greener way of operating power plants,” Phatshwane explained. He lamented that in the near future, power plants will not be allowed to discharge untreated gases which may have sulphur dioxide as a component.
He noted that another initiative that might be interesting to the business community is that BOTASH is looking at developing sulphate of potash. “It will be the first time that this product will be developed in sub Saharan Africa and it so happens that this product is ideal, not only for the fact that we live in a region where there are some water stresses but also that the soil types need potassium to be fertile for agricultural purposes and this presents another viable business opportunity to us,” he averred.
The acting CEO further said BOTASH also ventured into tourism despite, admittedly not having notable expertise in the industry. He shared that they are keeping rhinos in Sua Pan after creating a small park in the mining town. Further, Phatshwane said, the park will help to conserve rhinos which are some of the endangered species.
“Our idea is to develop the park so that eventually it will join up with Nata Bird Sanctuary and cater for tourists to keep them for a few days in the area. The above mentioned initiatives will ensure that as the business evolves it will take on new opportunities and invest to make sure that even if production to mine soda ash comes to an end, there will be other economic activities to engage the community there,” Phatshwane pointed out.