Thursday, March 4, 2021

Jindal’s Mmamabula project to boost SADC power grid

Jindal Botswana Business Head Tony Zerbet believes problems of power shortage in Southern Africa could be averted after ongoing power supply discussions with the Botswana Government for establishment of the Jindal Mmamabula energy project (JMEP). The project is expected to provide an additional 300MW for the SADC Region from 2015-16.

According to Zerbet who is a Chemical Engineer, Jindal Botswana has submitted a mining license application to Government to fully exploit its concession located in Botswana’s Mmamabula coalfields, an extension of the South Africa’s Waterberg coal fields which have a viable coal resource yielding close to 5 billion tonnes (Bt) including Mmamabula’s 2.7Bt. Jindal Botswana’s energy project involves a proposed 4 x 171MW power station and associated coal mine with an initial production of 4.5 mega tonnes per annum (Mtpa) ramping up to 14.5 Mtpa, with phase 1 of the power export project of 2 x 660MW. The economic logic of developing the Mmamabula Energy project stems from its proximity to the SA power transmission grid, a potential export conduit to the rest of Southern Africa.

In a recent interview, Zerbet confirmed: “Over and above Morupule B under construction by Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), an additional 300MW is needed from 2015-16. Nampower, Namibia’s power utility will need a further 300MW of capacity. Certain major energy users in SA have expressed interest in direct electricity supply from Jindal Africa.”

He added that SA’s power utility Eskom is going through a massive capacity expansion program and any delays could result in SA having to import electricity. As part of its medium term risk mitigation strategy Eskom is planning to source 2500 MW from coal based power plants.

“In its quest to appreciate the richness and diversity of African energy resources, the Jindal Group has completed extensive studies in relation to all the various projects that can be supported by the Mmamabula coal field, a world class coal asset. The three key projects remain viable and await the necessary government and regulatory approvals and support. The need for, and benefits from, all the projects remain compelling and as timing for each project is now appropriate, Jindal Africa remains committed to these vital projects,” said Zerbet.

Currently, new generation capacity is urgently required within the next 2 years. However, plant procurement and construction generally will take at least 3 to 4 years. Zerbet says Jindal is excited about investing in Botswana because of its political, financial stability, favourable foreign investment climate, with no exchange controls, favourable tax rate and rating by Moody’s. Transparency International also rates Botswana as having one of the lowest corruption indexes in the world. Furthermore, there is strong support by the Botswana Government for the development of the Mmamabula coal resource, including meaningful fiscal incentives.

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