Botswana is close to completing a road map on how to optimise benefits from the estimated 212 billion tonnes of coal reserves in the country, as the government battles to diversify its economy from diamond mining. ┬á
This was said this week by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water resources, Boikobo Paya.
He noted that the completion of the coal road map is at an advanced stage and it will be ready for implementation shortly after its final update in January next year.
Paya said Botswana is forced to develop the abundant resource because diamond revenue is expected to drop significantly by 2026, as Debswana shifts from open cut to underground mining.
When pre-empting the road map the Permanent Secretary said the most prospective way to optimise benefits from the coal is to export and generate power with the mined resource.
Paya said the government is, therefore, challenged to attract more companies which can mine coal for selling and also build power stations.
Currently, Morupule Colliery, a coal mining division of Debswana, is the only operating coal mine in the country. The company’s power plant Morupule A, produces only 120 mega watts of electricity, with the remainder of power imported from South Africa.
He said Botswana eyes the generation of more power by 2017.
This is expected to meet local demands of power, when SA ceases to supply this country with electricity.
The Marketing Manager for Morupule Colliery, Jonathan Vergeer, said, as a result of the expected increased demand for coal from the power plants, they will ramp up production from 1.2 million tonnes per annum to 2.8 million tonnes. In addition to Morupule Colliery, CIC Energy, African Energy and Aviva Corporation have expressed interests to establish coal mines for export and local consumption.
The study, which was part of the road map, has already confirmed that exporting the coal resource to potential markets among them India, China and Asian countries can generate more than 36 trillion pula. It added that the higher quality coal has the potential to generate the estimated returns if exploited as per the road map.
Chief Executive of World Coal Association, Milton Catelin said there is bright future for coal developers, due to its growth in demand. Meanwhile he warned that Botswana coal road map should incorporate clear public policies addressing environmental issues related to carbon dioxide emissions.
The Director of Geological Services of Botswana, Tebogo Segwabe said an opportunity exist for further development of coal resources. He said currently there are 190 coal and coal bed methane prospecting licences issued to 43 companies.