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Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR)
Rebuttal: The Oppenheimers want to own our diamonds
25/06/10
Rebuttal: The Oppenheimers want to own our diamonds   The Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water Resources wishes to respond to the article titled “Oppenheimers want to own our diamonds” that appeared in the Gazette newspaper dated 16 – 22 June 2010.

The Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water Resources wishes to respond to the article titled “Oppenheimers want to own our diamonds” that appeared in the Gazette newspaper dated 16 – 22 June 2010.

 

The Ministry wishes to state, that its mandate in relation to the mineral sector is to ensure, in the public interest, that mineral resources in Botswana are investigated and exploited in the most efficient and timely manner for the economic growth and development of Botswana. This is achieved through, among other things, the formulation and implementation of minerals policies, strategies, a robust regulatory framework and direct equity participation in exceptional circumstances, with the ultimate goal being optimal utilisation and beneficiation of mineral resources in a sustainable manner, thereby improving the quality of life of Batswana.

 

To achieve its mandate, the Ministry engages with the sector stakeholders on a continual basis, De Beers being one of them. In the same vein, the industry players approach the Government whenever they have businesses ideas, suggestions and packages which they believe can be of mutual benefit to the economy of Botswana and their entrepreneurial objectives.

 

Based on the foregoing, the Government reacted to the recent financial crisis by engaging a Consultant in January 2009 to undertake a Strategic Review of the Mineral Industry. The objectives of the review were to:-

 

        i.            analyze the impact of the global economic slowdown;

 

     ii.            recommend strategies that can be employed and identify possible opportunities;

 

   iii.            recommend strategies and interventions that the Government could employ to mitigate the impact;

 

   iv.            advise the Government on opportunities presented by the global financial crisis;

 

      v.            recommend ways in which Botswana could take advantage of the emerging situation in the mineral sector; and,

 

   vi.            advise the Government on measures or policy changes that could be implemented.

 

The recommendations from the review are being implemented and have resulted with some industry players who were adversely affected by the financial meltdown of 2008/09 getting back to business.

 

In addition to the strategic review, the Ministry received several business propositions from the industry players. Some propositions offered mitigation strategies specific to the financial crisis whilst others were everyday business proposals. Propositions were made by companies that have business interest in Botswana and those from without. De Beers is one of the companies that made a business proposition dubbed “Project Journey”, which is the subject matter of the Gazette article cited above.

 

The Ministry assures the nation that the proposals by De Beers and other industry players were considered and appropriate decisions made based on the merits of each case. The proposals are assessed based on the nations broader objectives of economic growth, promoting private sector participation, harnessing of the mineral resources in a sustainable manner, all aimed at facilitating sustainable economic diversification.

 

The proposal made by De Beers was a commercial and economic proposition that was assessed accordingly and a conclusion was reached that the proposal was not in the interest of Botswana. There is no need to cast aspersions on De Beers or any Group that offered proposals.

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