Botswana is to parade itself as the modern ?Newcastle of Africa? at the planned coal mining conference to take place in June this year.
The international conference, dubbed ? Botswana 2007, the awakening of the coal giant?, will be hosted by the Department of Geological Survey in the Ministry of Minerals and is being promoted by a South African-based company, Fossil Fuel Foundation of Africa ( FFF).
?Botswana has vast coal resources estimated at over 200 billion tones. These resources are grossly under-exploited with a production of less than 1 million tones per annum. With this impending power crisis in the SADC region, the use of Botswana coal resources to meet both the national and regional energy requirements has become imperative,? Heather Moon of FFF said on Friday.
FFF further re-affirmed the designate ambassador of China?s comments at the Barclays? Business Club meeting. The ambassador said Botswana also needs to market its natural resources in his country, including diamonds and coal.
?Internationally, there are market opportunities for Botswana coal particularly in China and India. There is a great potential for coal based industrialization in Botswana whereby an array of products can be produced from coal,? Moon added.
His comments come at a time when there are two major projects scheduled to come up in the northern parts of the country. One in Mmamabula and the expansion of the Morupule ? scheduled to embark on a ground breaking ceremony on Tuesday for its wash plant.
The aim of the wash plant is to enable its coal produce to enter the environmentally sensitive market of Europe and Asia. Morupule alone has coal resources of 15 billion tones which are expected to last another 15 000 years if it is mined at the present rate.
Officially, the expansion plan will see the country?s power supply jumping to 6000 mw or 3 million tones generating electricity by 2010.
Further, the mine is working on plans of down-stream activities to be carried out by independent companies from the mine, such as the production of fuel from coal.
?The conference format will cover the full strategic coal roadmap scope, from , exploration, ecological, mine planning, extraction, beneficiation, utilization, coal-to-energy, coal to liquids, gasification, ecological waste industrialization management, carbon dioxide management, and ecological rehabilitation,? Moon said about the conference.
He said the aim of the conference is to generate much interest and knowledge about coal and coal bed methane resources in Botswana, including the current coal mining and the future prospects.
Further, the conference comes at a time when the Mmamabula project is expected to enter some exciting stage as it is looking ahead to power the whole region. Mmamabula is owned by Meepong?a wholly-owned subsidiary of CIC Energy, a Botswana and Toronto listed company.
It will be an integrated coal mine, power station and transmission infrastructure project. Its key consumers will be the Botswana Power Corporation and Eskom of South Africa.
The development of the mine and associated power plant, which will entail substantial foreign investment, holds significant benefits for the Botswana economy through huge employment creation, social development and revenue generation.
Against this backdrop, the project will help solve the region?s future power needs, which will lead to considerable spin-off advantages for the South African Development Community region as a whole and will support the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa?s Development.