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Botswana Hoping to Build Six New Thermal Coal Mines With Government's Help, Before Window Closes



July 13, 2021 - Botswana was hoping to develop six new coal mines and a rail link for exports, said Bloomberg News citing government sources and Charles Siwawa, CEO of Botswana’s Chamber of Mines.

Project finance for thermal coal projects is fast drying up, according to Siwawa, who said that Botswana could exploit “that window” in which countries with abundant coal resources could yet develop it and sell the fuel to coal-fired power in Asia.

“We have that window,” Siwawa told the newswire. “We have a lot of coal and even if we gain $10bn between now and when they want us to stop, for us it means a lot for our economy,” he said.

“The Country Has Good Resources”

Speaking during a virtual meeting of Chinese investors last week, Robson Mugomba, acting CEO of the government’s Minerals Development Company Botswana, said: “The country has good resources which are close to the surface. With the resources we have, we could offer potential investors really attractive opportunities.”

The southern African nation, the world’s second-biggest diamond producer, has more than 200 billion tons of untapped coal reserves, said Bloomberg News. To kickstart the industry, it has turned to investors from the largest global coal consumer, China, it added.

Key to developing the projects is the construction of a rail link to South Africa of as long as 125 kilometers (78 miles) at a cost of $150m to $250m, said Bloomberg. The line, capable of transporting as much as 25 million tons a year, would channel coal to the South African rail system that runs to its ports.

The state is now willing to put its own money into projects to ensure they get to production, according to Mugomba. “These opportunities are subjected to detailed evaluation looking at potential returns,” he told the newswire. “We check against our portfolio to see if there’s a path to funding these.”