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22 Feb 2009 08:12
One of the world’s largest game parks located in Botswana may soon host mining activities, officials said on Saturday, after the government granted exploration licences to 14 foreign firms.
The 112 licences were awarded over the past six years for companies to undertake diamond, uranium, coal and base metals exploration in the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR) in central Botswana.
The park—Botswana’s largest at 52 800 square kilometres—is also home to the Kalahari Bushmen.
According to Wildlife Minister Kitso Mokaila, the reserve’s vast size—equivalent to Swaziland and Lesotho combined—justified allocating part of it to foreign mining companies.
“Why would I want to deny a country that started off as the 26th least developed country the opportunity to do mining? We all know what mining activities have done for this country. We are where we are right now because of mining,” said Mokaila.
“It has always been the policy of the government of Botswana that where there are minerals, they will be mined,” Mokaila said.
“Botswana has been built on the strength of mining.
It will be a very good thing” to mine in the park, he said.
Botswana is the world’s largest producer of diamonds by value and by volume.
Rough diamonds are Botswana’s largest industry, contributing 50% of public revenue, 33% of gross domestic product and 70% of foreign exchange earnings.
The 14 companies granted exploration licenses are yet to apply for mining permits, the minister said.
“I do not expect all of the 14 to start mining there,” he added.
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