The government warned this week of prolonged power outages due to the ongoing services but added that it was courting the Chinese to inject money into the stalled Mmamabula project.
Minerals, Energy and Water Resources minister, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, indicated that the country will run short of 80 mws of electricity supply for the months of October and November this year due to a multiple of factors, such as the overhaul of one of the units at Morupule and the ongoing repairs at one of the aged Mozambique power stations.
“Due to the constraints outlined, the total supply available stands at 452 MW compared to the total demand of some 500 MW during the period of high demands,” he said.
The Morupule power station supplies the country with 120 MW while running at full capacity and the Mozambique supply is at 85 MW at full capacity. The two months’ power shortage is expected to have minimal impact on the key pillars of the economyÔÇöespecially mining.
However, he stated that government is embarking on major plans aimed at making the country self-sufficient in power supply, including the long term plan of getting Mmabula on course by 2013.
“Through government initiatives, the government initiated a meeting in China with the promoters of the Mmamabula project for potential financing of the project,” he said, adding that government is still prepared to do anything to see the project through.
Mmamabula is an extension of the Waterberg coalfield in South Africa – host to South Africa’s largest coal mine, Grootegeluk, which is owned and operated by Kumba Resources and Eskom’s associated 3 600-MW power plant.
The rich coal reserves of the Mmamabula coalfield in Botswana are an important natural resource and contain significant resources of relatively high-quality thermal coal.
The promoters of the project said they will take advantage of Botswana’s dry port in NamibiaÔÇö- for coal export purposes ÔÇö- while at the same time embarking on aggressive plans to construct the now scaled-down 2400 mw power station during phase 1 of the mining plan.
“We are going to build a 1500-kilometre rail line which will connect Botswana to the Namibian ports,” the company has said, adding that the decision is still awaiting the environmental impact assessment study.
According to the agreement between the two power operators and the promoters, seventy-five percent of our power will be sold to ESKOM while the rest will go to the Botswana Power Corporation.
The Mmamabula project is now expected to cost nearly US $ 10 billion from the original US $ 16 billion.
As part of the long term plan, government and its wholly-owned power operator, Botswana Power Corporation are working on plans to put up 80 MW diesel powered plant that is expected to be operational by the second quarter of 2009 and a 250 MW turbine plant will follow during the third quarter of 2010 while Morupule expansion, with 600 MW, will be up and running in 2011.