Botash On New Product Development Drive

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Soda Ash and grade salt producer, Botswana Ash (Botash) looks to expand to other natural sodium-related products, while also contributing to building resilient communities in the area it operates, against the odds of challenges from poor service provision from key providers of transport, water, and housing.

This emerged during a recent media engagement at Botash operation on the Sua Pan, outside Sowa Town for journalists to appreciate the operations of the mine and also the role that it plays in community development as part of its CSR.

In his engagement with the media, Botash Managing Director Kangangwani Phatshwane revealed plans to expand into three more products of natural sodium – which have been under development over the past few years. This as the mine has continued to make profitability trends over the years focusing mainly on soda ash and grade salt.

Phatshwane highlighted that the three products – sodium sulphate, sodium bicarbonate, and sulphate potash will be launched, with market readiness, adding that they are expected to ensure the mine’s financial sustainability.

While the mine operations have been doing well over the years, recording impressive economic performance even during the downturn of COVID-19, Phatshwane has indicated a challenge about service provision from some key state-owned entities and service providers.

Transport remains a critical service for BOTASH to move its products into South Africa and other neighbouring countries, and for larger offtake, rail has remained a preferred option. But Phatshwane has decried that Botswana Railways has failed to live up to expectations.

According to him, 10 years ago, 100% of their product was on rail, but that changed as in 2023 the amount had dropped to 30%. “This means 70 % was on the road since Botash had not closed,” he said.

Phatshwane further highlighted that with 70% of their product on the road, there were consequences as this translated into more and more trucks on the road, posing a threat to road safety and also contributing to damage caused on the road, more expensive and leaving a considerable amount of carbon footprint.

He said the operation also faces serious challenges with water provision which is erratic, highlighting that Water Utilities Corporation was failing to meet the demand of the mine and the township.

Phatshwane also decried the poor maintenance of houses that the mine staff rent and occupy from Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC). He said while BHC owns the estate, the biggest by its standards, it was failing to maintain the houses in an acceptable manner.

Meanwhile, BOTASH, the largest producer of natural sodium and related products in the continent, currently sits on a resource that is expected to last until 2050. The resource allows for the extraction of 21 million cubic metres of brine with an output capacity of 300,000 tonnes of grade salt and 280,000 tonnes of soda ash.

Members of the media also had the opportunity to appreciate some of the CSR projects that the mine is engaged in, among them the Flamingo International School – owned and operated by Botash in Sowa Town, as well as the water reticulation project at Dukwi Primary School.

They also visited the Nata Kgotla Leobo project, also funded by the mine as well as the Malelejwe road bridge.

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