Recent downpours in the northern part of the country affected production and logistics at Botswana Ash Mine, Global Business has established.
Said the Acting Managing Director of BOTASH, Kangangwani Phatshwane, in an interview: “The floods were heavy to a point where the storm water system could not cope. Humidity was higher than 95% for almost two weeks, which made some parts of the plant to falter, especially the salt plant.”
He disclosed that Botswana Railways had to temporarily halt the movement of trains because the rail spur that lifts soda ash and other products from the mine that lies 150 kilometres west of Francistown was severely damaged.
“The suspension of trains came at a time when we were ramping up on a transfer from the Sua Pan to Johannesburg in preparation for our annual stock clearance of the factory for maintenance, and it severely affected that plan.”
Even so, Phatshwane said the floods were not nearly as bad as last year’s Cyclone Dineo in both force and destruction. But the eastern beach of the pan has been raised as a precautionary measure. “Levels in the northern pan have not reached last year’s levels, but they are getting there because the Nata River is still flowing into the pan,” he said.
In trying to mitigate losses, the management decided to transport some of the stock by road. But Phatshwane said not all their customers were amenable to having their orders carted by road to the point where a client in Sasolburg was currently running low in stock.
Global Business is informed that Botswana Railways is racing against time to repair the rail spur.
Although he could not monetise the extent of the mine’s losses, Phatshwane said 1 000 tonnes of soda ash were exported to South Africa on a daily basis and that the floods may have undercut that amount by 6 000 tonnes.