GABORONE, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- As electric vehicles are moving steadily into the spotlight, Botswana is set to start producing battery metals, an official said Monday.
Botswana's Minister of Minerals and Energy Lefoko Moagi said BITRI Investments (Pty) Ltd, the commercial wing of the southern African country's research and technology institute, Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation, is spearheading the venture.
The official did not specify when production will begin but said that BITRI Investments Ltd, together with partners, has been identified as investor partners for the development and establishment of a 300,000-tonne plant of high purity battery grade nickel and cobalt salts a year, he said.
"I truly believe that this investment will create value to the mineral beneficiation in Botswana and spur industrialization that would result in economic development," Moagi said of the commercial plant that will involve an investment of 80 million U.S. dollars.
According to Moagi, the plant will be able to recover 95 percent of salts from copper and nickel concentrates, sourced from local mines.
In a separate interview, Shedden Masupe, the chief executive officer at BITRI, said the venture is aimed at playing a role in preserving the environment. It will propel Botswana to be the hub of critical battery metals in Africa, he said.
Several exploration companies are working in Botswana's Kalahari Copperbelt in search of more copper and nickel deposits that can be exploited. ■