Red hot demand for coal

Buoyed by the increasing demand for coal worldwide, another company is looking to unlock the black rock’s untapped potential in Botswana.

The coal mine developer, Maatla Energy aims to start construction on Phase One of its Mmamabula Mine, situated near Mookane village in the Central District.

This week, the enterprise presented its plans to key stakeholders during a meeting organised by Botswana Railways and Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) as well as Business Botswana.

The project reportedly hosts in excess of 2 billion tonnes of high-grade thermal coal.

On Monday, Maatla Energy CEO, Jacques Badenhorst told a group of investors that the company submitted its application for a mining licence in April this year, adding he expects it to be granted early next year.

According to Badenhorst, there is an increasing demand for coal globally as production declines. Indeed, he revealed demand is predicted to increase from 900 metric tonnes per annum to over 1, 000 metric tonnes per annum in 2025.

A further increase in demand for the fossil fuel is anticipated to reach 1, 240 metric tonnes annually by 2030.

“Demand will mostly come from South East Asia and the rest of developing countries relying on coal as a source of power generation,” he explained, further supporting his claim by referencing the International Energy Agency (IEA) study which forecasts coal to remain the largest single source of electricity generation for the next 22 years.

Currently, coal accounts for around 40 percent of global electricity generation, with a number of coal-fired power stations said to be scheduled for construction worldwide.

Additionally, coal prices are reportedly on the rise owing to a shortage of coal mines opening up.

Badenhorst further revealed that securing funding for coal projects is becoming increasingly difficult due to the Paris 2015 COP21 Climate Change Conference.

The Conference found that coal was thought to be responsible for emissions contributing to global warming.

Even with no new constructions, by 2030 it is believed emissions from existing coal-fired power stations will be 150 percent higher than what is consistent with scenarios limiting global warming to below 2°C.

However, Badenhorst remained resolute, defiantly telling investors, “Renewables are important, but coal is here to stay!”

While Botswana’s coal resources remain largely untapped, with only one operational coal mine, Morupule Coal Mine (MCM), it is thought that the country has an export potential of at least 15 million tonnes per annum that can be unlocked with sufficient railway infrastructure.

Another coal mine developer, Minergy which was recently awarded a mining licence, is already on schedule for its first coal sales in the early stages of 2019.

Should Maatla Energy get its own licence on schedule, it is expected to follow shortly with coal sales in the fourth quarter of 2019.

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