The CEO of the Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM) expects the country to export 130 million tpa of coal when the necessary rail infrastructure in completed. Speaking to the Botswana Gazette, Charles Siwawa said the BCM is working closely with the government and industry to develop solutions for the export of coal from three hubs: Walvis Bay in Namibia, Richards Bay in South Africa and Mozambique’s Ponta Techobanine.
Coal infrastructure will cost US$ 22 billion
According to Siwawa, the total cost of the infrastructure will be US$ 22 billion, which will be privately funded. The government is currently assisting with negotiations with the other governments involved and with funders, who will need to be assured that export volumes will reach the levels required to make investment attractive. This would be 50 million t through Walvis Bay, another 50 million t to Ponta Techobanine and 30 million t through Richards Bay. “We believe that we have enough coal resource to support all the three railway systems,” Siwawa said.
Discussions with the Namibian government over the Walvis Bay route are the most advanced, with agreement expected early next year.
Responding to the interview, Mark Major, managing director of Hodges Resources, which is developing coal resources in central Botswana, was positive: “The development between government and stakeholders is important part of the success in developing suitable export infrastructure for the Botswana coal industry. It is our belief that we could see rapid development of this now.”
In search of funds
Meanwhile, the gazette also reported that Botswana’s minister of mineral, energy and water resources has left for India to meet with the Indian ministers of state for coal and railways to discuss collaboration on coal beneficiation, infrastructure development and expertise on issues related to coal.
India is a key potential funder for Botswana’s coal industry, with interest also shown from funders from the US and China.
Edited from various sources by Jonathan Rowland
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