As a result of “overwhelming” interest in diamond and metals explorer Tsodilo Resources’ legal action against the Botswana Ministry of Minerals & Energy (MME), the former has established landing pages on its website that it says are regularly updated to include all records related to the litigation.
On or about June 30, 2021, Tsodilo’s wholly-owned Botswana subsidiary Gcwihaba Resources submitted seven prospecting renewal licence applications for its Xaudum Iron Formation (XIF) project in north-west Botswana.
At the time, two licences were relinquished in their entirety, while five were submitted for renewal, following which 50% of the combined licence area in the seven licences was relinquished in terms of sections 17 and 19 of Botswana’s Mines and Minerals Act.
In January this year, four of the five licences that contain the vast bulk of the exploration target in the XIF project were renewed as submitted, while the fifth – PL020/2018, continued in the renewal process.
Despite periodic inquiries about the licence renewal status, Tsodilo was first notified of a possible reason for the continued delay on April 26, when the Minerals and Energy Minister informed Gcwihaba that part of the XIF area included in licence PL020/2018 is in the buffer zone surrounding the Okavango Delta – a Unesco World Heritage Property, and that any prospecting activities in that area would be subject to environmental assessment measures.
While the bulk of Tsodilo’s XIF resource remains free of any dispute, it says the area within the buffer zone is of sufficient value – enough to compel Tsodilo to “protect shareholder interest” in pursuing the licence.
In October, Tsodilo said it also believed the conduct of the Botswana government in connection with the licence renewal process left it with no other recourse than to seek resolution in the courts.
Accordingly, litigation was initiated on October 31.
However, Tsodilo says that since starting litigation, it has received an “overwhelming” request for proceeding filings and related documentation pertinent to the matter, culminating in the creation of the online landing pages to ensure it remains “fully transparent and meet[s] the volume of requests”.
The XIF project is located in the north-west district of Botswana close to the Namibian border, lying about 35 km from the town of Divundu in Namibia.
Preliminary work on the XIF project defined a inferred mineral resource estimate of 441-million tons with an average grade of 29.4% iron, 41% silicone dioxide, 6.1% aluminium oxide and 0.3% phosphorus for the Block 1 magnetite XIF.