Debswana Diamond Mining Company has hailed the development of the trail-blazing multi-million pula turbine power projection in Orapa saying it is expected to “minimise“ the impact of load-shedding on its mine operations.
“This will be called in as and when needed. Everybody is going to benefit from this but we will be given priority,” Managing Director of Debswana , Blackie Marole, said about the project, adding that “this is going to minimise the impact of power shedding”.
Botswana government, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) and Debswana have entered into an agreement for the development of turbine power project from the mining township of Orapa.
The project is to cost P 850 million and will generate power of up to 90 mwÔÇöagainst the Orapa/Letlhakane mines power demand of 85 mw.
Marole was speaking on the sidelines of turbine tour by Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Minister, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, on Friday.
This is the first Independent Power Producer (IPP) initiative since the amendment of the BPC Act last year. The idea behind the amendment of the Act was to allow IPP outside BPC to come up with their own projects, geared towards empowering the resource-based companies in the country to have their own power stationsÔÇöand possibly export electricity to the power hungry southern African regional countries.
The resource companies are expected to take advantage of the estimated two billion coal reserves in the country expected to last about 8000 years.
The turbine power due to be completed by end of October following 11 months of construction is expected to be connected to the national power grid for it to play the role of back-up supply in times of need.
The facility, built around the concept of the Boeng 747 engine, will initially be dependent on diesel for power generation but will eventually be linked to the national supply of gas that will make it economically viable to run.
During the initial stage, when using diesel, it will use 17 000 liters of fuel an hour and it is expected to have a peaking period of up to 15 minutes.
The developments come two years after De Beers’ Managing Director, Gareth Penny, warned international diamond conferences about possible spikes in rough diamond prices as the producer countries are faced with constant power black-outs.
He said the power shedding exercise has increased the input costs in the producer countries.
“We are grateful that we have provided for this. It costs a lot of money to go an hour without electricity (at Debswana mines) considering the value of diamonds that we produce,” Marole said.
Botswana is faced with power shortages as the South African coal mines are getting depleted of the resources and at the same time power stations in the region are aging. The move has led to general power shortage in the regionÔÇöincluding traditional suppliers like South Africa.