Mines work in progress

GABORONE- Only after establishing the size and character of the resource at Selebi mines, can Premium Nickel Resources Botswana (PNRB) plan and develop the best mine possible, says chief executive officer Mr Montwedi Mphathi.

Speaking at a green energy seminar in Gaborone yesterday, Mr Mphathi said the redevelopment involved critical establishment of the remaining resources.

He said it was only then that the number and quality of jobs required for the operation could be determined with some certainty.

Mr Mphathi said the redevelopment project, named Tsholofelo, carried hope for the communities that were
devastated by the sudden closure and liquidation of the mines.
“The Tsholofelo project is currently at the exploration phase with five surface drill rigs on site drilling new holes and cleaning out previously drilled ones,” he said.

He said best practice technologies were being used to find the concentration of minerals based on the physical properties of sulphide mineralisation.

That, Mr Mphathi said, was combined with other known information to guide the drilling programme. He revealed that the work started early this year and would continue for the next two to three years.
“The depth of the exploration holes at between 1.5 to two kilometres is the main reason for taking that much time to complete the exploration,” he said.

Mr Mphathi said the project included continued pumping out of water to prevent flooding and maintenance of existing infrastructure.

He said compared to past operations, redevelopment would minimise the impact on the environment by using fewer resources.

Less power would be used and green energy production introduced, he explained.

He said the process would also use none or less internal combustion engines in pursuit of carbon footprint reduction.
“We will use less water and be more efficient in its use by recycling. For Botswana this is a very scarce resource that must be preserved now and for future generations and protected against contamination as well,” he said.

Therefore, Mr Mphathi said channelling the excess waters into a citrus project would be considered.

Saying the redevelopment would not pollute the environment and instead aimed to leave it in better condition, he explained that the plan was to produce two separate concentrates, a copper with nickel impurities and a nickel-cobalt one with copper impurities, obviating the sulphur dioxide pollution problem.

“If the Selebi resource is large enough to support a long life of the mine and it makes commercial sense, a modern smelter that has sulphur capture will be considered,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Mphathi said through its products, nickelcopper-cobalt used in electric vehicle batteries, PNR also contributed to global climate change reduction efforts.

He said as part of the supply chain to EV manufacturers, PNR would be required to have a low carbon footprint and comply with other environment protection requirements.

By extension, the PNR supply chain would also be required to comply with the same requirements further enhancing environmental protection efforts.