Your company lodged applications for licenses in the Orapa region, in Botswana. What is the progress?
Since August 2012 we have lodged 25 applications with the Department of Mines. Progress has been frustratingly slow and we have been given a variety of excuses along the way. For explorers it is critical to have ground. We appointed a local consultant to assist us with the process but problems at the DoM have resulted in a lack of clarity and lead-times of up to a year on simple license applications. As I understand it, we are not the only company to have faced these delays.
We have gained some ground, but not enough yet. Where we cannot access ground because it is already held by others we consider earn-in arrangements where appropriate.
I firmly believe that it is in the interests of Botswana to have companies such as Botswana Diamonds and Alrosa willing to be active in exploration and spending money on the ground. If, or rather when, we find something worthy of development (as we did with our discovery of the Karowe diamond mine) it will be of economic significance to the country and therefore should be encouraged.
We still have multiple applications lodged and wait patiently in the hope of timely and expeditious consideration.