India’s Yashomann Industries unit Vision Ridge Investments has closed the Ikongwe Mine in Botswana, due to a drop in export prices for iron ore, reported Reuters.

The mine has an annual production capacity of one million tonnes of iron ore over an initial operational life of ten years, with a grade of 65%.

Said to be Botswana’s sole iron ore operation, the Ikongwe mine was commissioned in 2021 at a time when iron ore prices soared to record highs of $240 a tonne as a result of increased demand in China.

However, the global prices of iron ore have since reduced to around $100 per tonne due to a decreased demand for steel, of which iron ore is the main ingredient in its production. The drop in prices has resulted in the mineral’s exports from Botswana being ‘unviable’ amid higher logistics costs.

Vision Ridge director Chetan Patil told Reuters: “We could no longer afford to continue stockpiling when we are not exporting. We tried buying a steel plant currently under liquidation for local beneficiation of our ore, but we have since pulled out of that deal. Plans are underway now to build our own integrated steel-making plant near the mine.”

The mine, which commenced its first shipment in September 2021 to China, aimed to contribute to Botswana’s plans to cut dependence on diamonds.