Botswana coal industry is ripe for development

Jon Lawson

Botswana coal industry is ripe for development, says specialist supplier

Botswana is set to play a bigger role in both the domestic and African coal industries, says an emerging coal mining company that is ideally placed to become the supplier of choice to coal consumers across southern Africa.

With coal reserves in Botswana estimated at up to 200 billion tonnes, the country certainly has the resources to meet the growth in demand anticipated across Africa. Furthermore, with a supportive government that has a strategic focus on job creation, especially in the coal industry, things are looking optimistic for a country that has traditionally been entrenched in the business of diamonds.

Andre Boje, CEO at Minergy, explains: “Botswana is a highly rated investment destination in Africa, with a long history of political stability and a well-managed and stable economy. The government has been investing in infrastructure and has identified the export of coal as a significant opportunity.”

Speaking at the recent IHS Markit South African Coal Export Conference, Sadique Kebonang, Botswana’s Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Minister commented that the government’s approach is to focus on the domestic use and export of coal, as well as the generation of electricity for domestic users. He added that new coal export rules, as well as specific government focus on investment and infrastructure are providing new life and growth for the industry in Botswana.

Boje echoes Kebonang’s views on the opportunities for Botswana coal, and is looking to the future, with Minergy expected to start mining coal from its site – a 390 million tonne opencast, low strip ratio mine in the Mmambula Coalfield, 50km north of Gaborone – in July 2018, with the first saleable coal available in September 2018.

The management team at Minergy has vast mine development and operational experience, with a range of expertise in coal and energy markets across Africa and internationally. Boje is joined by CFO Morné du Plessis and chairman Mokwena Morulane. Several other recent appointments, each with considerable experience in the coal industry, have bolstered the team further.

Gabotshwarege Tshekiso is a mechanical engineer with more than three decades of experience in the mining industry. He previously worked as a director in the Department of Mines, responsible for the Gaborone and Francistown offices. In addition, Dutch Botes, a mining engineer with over 30 years’ coal mining experience has been appointed as technical advisor.

Boje continues: “The Masama Coal Project represents an exciting opportunity for the development of a small to medium scale coal mine in Botswana. During the start-up phase of production, we anticipate producing 1.2 million tonnes of coal and will require approximately 300 employees directly and indirectly; as production ramps up, further employment opportunities will be created.

“Although the new government in South Africa has made considerable changes to the business landscape, it’s likely to take many years for the investment in coal to result in new coal mines. In 2016, four million tonnes of coal was exported from South Africa to the African continent; this is forecast to rise to 38 million tonnes by 2030 – presenting a key opportunity for Botswana."

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