Sunday, March 7, 2021

Botswana/SA synergies key to unlocking coal value

Strongest synergies in the joint commercial exploitation of the abundant coal reserves in coalfields in close proximity across the common border at Mammabula, Botswana and Waterberg, South Africa (SA), hold tremendous growth opportunities and benefits the two countries can afford to overlook, SA Chamber of Mines of South Africa President Mike Teke has said.

According to Teke, Mammabula with coal reserves estimated at more than 200 billion tons (Mt) coupled with inexhaustible Waterberg cal reserves adjacent to the Lephalale proposed marshalling railway terminal, justify joint collaboration between Botswana and SA, given the enormous economic potential and benefits both for the industrial hinderland, regional and international markets.

Achieving maximum production from the coalfields will increase the Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) current total entitlement of 91 million tons (Mt) throughput per annum. As RBCT remains SA’s best export solution, harnessing the industrial hub network, becomes fundamental to unlocking the latent value and shaping the future of Botswana and SA coal industries.

The major infrastructure development of the joint venture project scheduled for completion in three phases from 2022 to 2024, involves construction of a heavy haul rail (HHR) link to Mammabula coalfields include a 3 to 4 km long bridge across the Limpopo. This would link with the new HHR line from Lephalale to Thabazimbi onward to Emelo before RBCT.

However, to come to the party as eminent dignitaries and exploit the insatiable Chinese, Indian and European coal export markets, Botswana and SA have mapped out immediate, medium and long-term strategies for the 2013 ÔÇô 2030 period, starting 2014.

In an interview with this publication recently, Teke who is also RBCT Chairman said as a way of reinforcing synergies regarding coal mining, power generation and export, the two countries are calling for joint-venture partnerships at chamber of mines, ministerial and other stakeholders’ levels.

Teke, the founding Chairman of Dedicoal (Pty) Ltd), a service-based mining and beneficiation vehicle, active in the South African mining sector said: “The medium and long-term development progammes from 2015 ÔÇô 2020 and 2020 and beyond, respectively, will visualize substantial regional trade development as well as bilateral smart partnerships in infrastructure enhancement and intensification of coal mining projects.

“The project when on stream will provide world class heavy haul rail infrastructure to optimize economic and mining development in Waterberg and Botswana. Furthermore, the anticipated stimulation to economic growth in Botswana and Limpopo industrial zone will unlock Botswana Coal Reserves.

“Current statistics show that SA will more than double electricity generation capacity to 89, 532 MW by 2030 and hence the spill off benefits from the export/import potential from the joint venture. Current cross border supply stands at 174 MW. However, on completion of Morupule B, full power generation capacity will rise to 1200 MW, thereby enhancing the strongest synergies.”

However, promising joint project ventures of this magnitude require overcoming regional business bottlenecks. According to the 2011 ÔÇô 2012 World Economic Forum report business retardants in the 14 member SADC bloc with a population close to 400 million and US$662.816 billion GDP include unwavering bureaucracy at the highest political level, skills and work ethic deficiencies, brain haemorrhaging, corruption among government officials and inadequate infrastructure.

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