Botswana Wants to Ship 115 Million Tons of Coal to Asian Buyers

Botswana plans to ship 115 million metric tons of coal per year within a decade to meet growing demand in China and India, the country’s chamber of mines said.

Exports would start at 65 million tons when the 1,500 kilometer (932 mile) Trans-Kalahari railway linking Mmamabula coalfields with the port of Walvis Bay in Namibia is completed in five years, Charles Siwawa, chief executive officer of the Botswana Chamber of Mines, said in an interview today. That could be increased by 77 percent within three years, he said.

“There is a window of opportunity that we see in the markets in China and India and that is the market we are aiming for,” said Siwawa, who was in Walvis Bay to attend the signing of an agreement between Namibia and Botswana to build the line.

The construction of an $15 billion railway connecting landlocked Botswana’s biggest coal-mining region to an upgraded port in neighboring Namibia will allow the southern African country to access Asian markets, said Minerals, Energy and Water Minister Onkokame Mokaila. The agreement between Botswana and Namibia established a jointly owned company to administer the development of the railway line by private investors.

“This rail link will monetize Botswana’s established resources of an estimated 12 billion tons of coal,” Mokaila said in a speech in Walvis Bay. “Coal will continue to be a source of power for some time to come; it will continue to be one of the cheapest sources of power.”

Starting Shipments

Botswana wants 10 companies, including Shumba Coal Ltd. and African Energy Resources Ltd., exploring in Mmamabula to apply for mining licenses and start shipments using existing rail lines through Mozambique’s Beira port and South Africa’s Richards Bay.

“The existing railway lines have capacity for 10 million tons each and if the companies convert licenses to mining licenses, shipments via Richards Bay and Beira could commence soon,” Siwawa said.

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