Morupule Colliery mine is aiming to brighten the faces of Batswana by being the trail-blazing mine in the country to produce liquid fuel, gas and other coal associated industrial products from its resource.
The mine, which by far has the largest resourceÔÇöif mined at the present rateÔÇöcan take the country some 15,000 years to deplete is on the verge of expansion.
“Morupule and Kgaswe have resources of 15 billion tones and if we mine at the present rate it will take us some 15 years to deplete it,” Morupole Colliery Mine, General Manager, Cletus Tangane, said in an exclusive interview with The Sunday Standard.
The mine is working on an expansion plan which is expected to see the country being self-sufficient in power supply shortly after 2010.
Further, the mine, which, in 1973, started to supply strategic operations such as BCL, hospitals, Botswana Power Corporation and lately Botash has commissioned a study to look at possible plans of producing liquid fuel ÔÇô such as petrol and other related aspectsÔÇöas is being done by Sasol in South Africa. The expansion alone will see the mine producing 600 mw or 3 million tones of coal generating electricity by 2010 and thereafter increased by a further 600 mw. At the moment Botswana is importing 80 percent of its power from South Africa and due to the power cuts that are being experienced in the neighbouring country, Botswana Power Corporation is likely to increase its tariffs by 400 percent this year. The first increase was made in December.
He said the focus of the study, whose results are expected to come out in June, is aimed at making his company a power and beneficiation hub to produce liquid fuel, plastic and gas and if possible metals used to build aero-planes.
“We need to see all coal beneficiation in Palapye and continue to feed BPC. We also need a robust marketing strategy. What we have done is that we have gone out for an open tender and we should be having recommendations of all what we have done,” David Kgobokwe, head of mining section said in an interview.
He added: “Firstly, we are looking at our mining extraction methods because what we have been using can not go beyond 25 percent extraction. We are going to look at other mining methods out there aimed at addressing the low extraction which does not give us the Net Production Value (NPV).”
“I speak with confidence because the South African resources are getting depleted and the concentration will be in Botswana,” Tangane said.
Botswana has an abundance of coal measuring 2012 billion tones. And the Morupole ore body extends as far as MoiyabanaÔÇöover some 60 kilometers from where the mine presently is.
“For this to happen government has to concentrate on an enabling environment of private public partnership,” he said adding that other companies in the region such as Sasol do have the technology.
“We are also looking at getting the ISO 4001 by mid this year. That will enable us to produce clean coal so that we can export to other countries such as Europe and China because they will be convinced that our coal is environmentally friendly,” Tangane said.
Despite the fact that it does not already meet the domestic demands, Morupole is exporting coal to regional markets, such as DRC, Zambia and Zimbabwe and it is planning to expand across the region.
“It is our intension to be the preferred supplier and we have made some inroads into the region but our major impediment is transport. We slowly know that our markets are China and Europe,” he added.
Tangane said Palapye is centrally placed and the proposed rail-line between the emerging town can become the industrial capital city of Botswana.
“Palapye is gateway to the south, west, and north. It does not have shortage of water unlike the southern part of the country nor shortage of land like Gaborone. So do you see the strategic importance of Palapye,” he said.
As part of meeting the ISO 14001 to satisfy international standards, the company is already putting P 87 million wash plant which reduces sulpher and ash contents of coal by being washed twice so that it can meet European standards and the world at large.