You may have noticed on social media last week that we announced that we had become members of the Critical Minerals Association.
The might not relate directly to our ongoing progress on the ground in Botswana.
However, I view it as an important step in Kavango’s overall corporate development.
You see, our membership really gives us a chance to have a larger industry voice.
The CMA is an industry body emerging as a key focal point for expertise in mining and the supply of key metals into the UK.
Specifically, it recognises the urgent need to identify new sources of critical minerals and to support a robust minerals extraction industry for the UK to deliver economic stability and future growth.
These are needs the British government is also waking up to; especially post-Brexit.
Increasingly, home-grown mining projects are being supported by Westminster, which is why a significant portion of the CMA’s member companies have projects in the British Isles.
A couple of well-known industry consultants like SRK and Wood Mackenzie are also members, although there’s no doubt that the company with the biggest clout is Rio Tinto.
But the membership also includes a smattering of UK-listed companies with assets overseas.
And now Kavango joins the ever-growing list.
What’s in it for us?
First, as good citizens of the UK, we share the central aim of the CMA – to establish metal supply chains within and into the UK that are as robust as possible. A strong UK economy is good for the people of the UK, and it’s good for the world.
In recent decades, though, there hasn’t been a great deal of actual mining activity in Great Britain itself. The finance that comes out of London has, by and large, gone overseas. And what that means is that while the private sector remains reasonably well acquainted with the mining industry, the government is less so.
In a world where supply chains have recently been severely tested, and in which tarrifs and trading blocs have recently re-emerged as a powerful force, this has resulted in a steep learning curve for our authorities.
The CMA aims to tap into that new openness, and at the same time to use its contacts to advocate for the industry.
Kavango can play a key role in these endeavours, and not only in advocacy either.
Our portfolio of projects in Botswana is prospective for a range of critical metals, from rare earths at Ditau, to copper, nickel, and platinum group elements at the Kalahari Suture Zone, to yet more copper as well as silver on our Kalahari Copper Belt licences.
Over time, mainlining production of these elements back to the UK might well work out as a win-win all round.
After all, we’re increasingly seeing exploration and development in the mining sector couched in national terms: Germany was recently reported to be interested in securing assets in the Lithium Triangle of South America, China has extensive copper interests in the Congo, France has uranium assets in Central Africa.
To date, not much has been written about Britain moving in on mining assets overseas. No doubt, this is in large part because, for historic reasons, many of the major mining companies are domiciled in Britain anyway. But it’s also because a Critical Metals Strategy is a relatively new development in Britain.
That being so, we feel it is both expedient and in the broad general interest to get in on the ground floor.
The CMA is helping to create a sophisticated network of mining industry and government professionals of a kind that hasn’t existed before. Being a part of that network could well be crucial to securing new opportunities and know-how in the years ahead.
What’s more, the opportunity to become aligned with best practice in regard to environmental and social standards is something that all companies should aspire to, and which the CMA’s association with the UK government looks set to promote.
How do we know this?
For one thing, officialdom is now in full swing: the House of Commons Select Committee on Critical Minerals met towards the end of last year, and received amongst other things, a presentation from directors of CMA member company Pensana Metals.
More than that, though, Kavango’s chief operating officer, Brett Grist, previously co-chaired the CMA’s UK mining working group, which successfully opened up several channels of communication with the UK government.
As we continue to explore our licence packages, we see building on Brett’s experience with our own CMA as being highly complementary to ouir growth.