Botswana’s mining industry remains a key economic sector and holds the key to transforming Botswana into an Upper Income Country. But it is driven mainly by diamonds and therefore has limited scope to broaden the country’s revenue base.
It is against this background that the Botswana Government is pursuing exploitation of other minerals, including tapping into the country’s 212 billion tonnes of coal. President Mokgweetsi Masisi noted this when he officially opened the Motheo Project recently.
Morupule Coal Mine’s (MCM) Motheo Project, which aims to expand coal production capacity by 1 million tonnes per year, will create 900 short-term jobs and 350 permanent jobs during its full operation in addition to the 735 people already employed by Morupule. The project is also set to support the local community’s small-medium enterprises in Palapye and surrounding areas.
President Masisi said must take steps to sustainably use its massive coal reserves for socio-economic development. “As the country is experiencing a shortage of electricity with only 60 percent being generated locally, coal from Morupule Mine remains the predominant source of energy, feeding both Morupule A and Morupule B power plants, to meet the country’s power demands, mainly base load generation,” he said.
“The Motheo expansion project will therefore assist the government’s efforts to increase rural electrification and village connectivity as we have promised our people.” The scope of the project includes development of an open cast coal mine, a coal handling and processing plant, and supporting infrastructure.
Also speaking at the ceremony, the General Manager of Morupule Coal Mine, Edwin Elias, said the company intends to increase its share in the regional market and eventually increase its presence in seaborne and international markets because global demand of coal has increased.
MCM wants to meet this demand while thinking of using modern mining methods and coal beneficiation techniques that are environmentally-friendly and sustainably adaptive, Elias noted. He added that the vision of MCM is to be a leading coal energy business, and that they will transition to this by using new technologies, promoting innovation and digitisation of its mining methods and business processes.
“MCM made a bold decision, not necessarily as a matter of only increasing revenue earnings and an expansive capture of the market, but also to facilitate the Government of Botswana’s continuous efforts to diversify our mining sector and create other revenue streams away from diamond mining,” he revealed.
Elias emphasised the company’s commitment to economic inclusion by pointing to its decision to help develop small to medium suppliers and give an opportunity to companies owned by Batswana to undertake global-scale projects.
“It is for that reason that through our Citizen Economic Empowerment Program (CEEP), we decided to award a technically and commercially complex, as well as a capital intensive opencast coal mining contracts to a majority-owned citizen joint venture between Bothakga Burrow and Basil Read, a South African-based company,” he said.
“We are confident that the BR-BB Joint Venture will demonstrate that Batswana are ready to make an impact locally and beyond in big projects like the Motheo Project. A five-year contract has been awarded to BR-BB to operate the opencast mine while Johdee, a minerals processing company based in Botswana, has also been awarded a five-year contract to operate the processing plant.”
Motheo is an expansion project established by Morupule Coal Mine to develop an opencast mine, a coal washing plant and associated infrastructure. The ultimate aim of the project is to facilitate MCM’s contribution to Botswana’s economic growth and transformation of coal into unlimited sources of energy. The project is envisaged to increase coal production capacity from the current 2.8 million tons to 3.8 million tons per annum.