Minergy Energy is poised to become the country’s latest coal miner after receiving a waiver to carry out pre-construction preparatory activities at its Masama coal project. Last week, the BSE listed company announced that the department of environmental affairs (DEA) has given them the nod to start bush clearing within the proposed mining area, construct access roads, preparation of plant areas, among others, ahead of the highly-expected mining licence grant in two months.
The company, which is headed by Andre Boje, is over the moon after they were given a provisional approval of its Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) from government which is expected to be final within the next four weeks, starting this Friday (today). In a statement to shareholders, Minergy said once the approved ESIA has been submitted to the ministry of mineral resources, green technology and energy security, the mining licence will be issued.
As per law, the minister, Eric Molale will issue the mining licence. All things being equal, the grant of the licence will make Minergy‘s Masama coal project the country’s second coal mine in operation after Morupule Coal Mine (MCM). Masama Coal project is located within the Kweneng District in a small village called Medie. Botswana Guardian understands that the company has already engaged stakeholders such as land boards ahead of the mining activities in the area especially relating compensations for those who will be affected.
Some people have also been hired at its Lentsweleau office. Giving an update on the Masama coal project more than a month ago, Chairman Mokwena Morulane and Boje were jointly quoted as saying; “Subject to the awarding of the mining licence and given the timelines outlined in the operational review, Minergy plans to have 250 000 tonnes of run of mine (“ROM”) available for processing through the washing plant by September 2018 that will produce 150 000 tonnes of saleable coal and thereafter 100 000 tonnes per month”.
The company, which is also planning a secondary listing in London, said that they have had numerous approaches to enter into off-take agreements with both regional end users and international coal traders which could elevate the required saleable product to an excess of 200 000 tonnes per month.
“The mine’s ability to service this increased tonnage will be dependent on factors such as the availability of capital for expansion and projected coal pricing to 2021,” said Morulane and Boje. The company said the envisaged coal mine will have access to rail infrastructure and roads, which can be used for transportation. The mining licence is expected to be for a period of 25 years. Botswana has over 200 billion tonnes of coal reserves which remains largely untapped.
Debswana, the country’s largest rough diamond producer is embarking on an ambitious project to expand the lifespan of the Orapa mine by an additional 35 years.
Orapa mine is the 9th biggest diamond mine in the world and is set to get even bigger through the Cut 3 project which is currently at pre-feasibility stage. “Cut 3 is the next big push at Orapa, where we will be expanding the mine. At Orapa, mining is currently at Cut-2 while Cut-3 is at pre-feasibility stage; we are working towards the next push back. Cut 3 is a big expansion,” said Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa mines general manager, Bakani Motlhabane recently. He was addressing local newspapers and radio editors who visited the mine.
According to information from the company website, a detailed design study is underway to extend the life of the mine beyond the current open pit (Cut 2). Studies are at pre-feasibility stage and will inform the various parameters for Cut-3, said Debswana which is owned by De Beers and Botswana Government on an equal basis. The current Life of Mine, which only includes Cut-2, extends to 2030.
Motlhabane, who was giving an overview of the mine said, “We are excited about Cut 3 because it is going to transform this place. It is going to make Orapa different.” The GM did not go into details regarding the costs but maintained that this is not a little expansion on the sides it is about “overhauling this place.” Orapa, which is the oldest operating mine in the country, is currently mining at a depth of 250 metres and is expected to reach 450 metres by 2026.
Said Motlhabane, “We aspire to become a global benchmark diamond business. That is really our drive, everything that we do we want to be amongst the best if we are not amongst the best we must be the ones setting the benchmark. “We are focusing in the future, in future we are going to have expansions; there are projects that we are busy with that are coming in the future that will keep us going.” Cut 3 will involve stripping away waste at the bottom of the mine, as well as widening and deepening the pit. The mine is expected to increase its fleet of trucks from the current 23 to 58. Orapa which currently has a staff
complement of over 2000 employees will need an extra 500 for Cut 3 with additional houses. The envisaged extension of the mine comes after President Mokgweetsi Masisi has indicated that, negotiation on new diamond sales agreement with De Beers is just about to start. “We have had a wonderful relationship with De Beers and we expect that relationship to be even more cemented,” Masisi said in an interview with Bloomberg. “There is a way of actually achieving a win-win for both, and that’s what we desire.”
On a related matter, Debswana has also announced plans to further expand Jwaneng mine, a sister operation to Orapa through a project known as Cut 9.
Diversified group, Sefalana is expecting improved profits for the year to April 2018, beating retail industry current odds which include sluggish economy growth and reduced consumer confidence.
The company, which is headed by Chandra Chauhan, said in a stock market filing this week that, the group’s net income for the past year will be significantly higher than that reported in the previous year(H2: 2017). The owners of Sefalana Hyper and Shoppers brands have not stated underlying reasons for the group’s growth in net income, safe to say the results will be out by the end of July 2018. For the year to April 2017, the company reported a profit of P128, 3 million, down from P157, 5 million the year before.
In the past year, the company has been expanding its presence across Botswana. It also concluded its entry into South Africa, the continent’s second biggest economy. On other matters, the Managing Director of its biggest revenue contributor, Hans Kampmann resigned from the group for undisclosed reasons.
He has been with the group for the past 19 years. According to a statement from the BSE website Sefalana owns 100 percent of Sefcash (Sefalana Cash and Carry), a leading wholesaler and retailer of fast moving consumer goods. The Sefcash store complement consists of 19 retail supermarkets under the name “Sefalana Shopper”, 3 convenience stores under the name “Sefalana Quick”, 25 cash & carry outlets trading under the name “Sefalana Cash & Carry”, 3 Hyper Stores located in Gaborone, Francistown and Mahalaype, trading as “Sefalana Hyper”, 4 liquor stores, trading as “Sefalana Liquor” and 1 cigarette distribution outlet trading under the name, Capital Tobacco. In addition, the company has just under 400 voluntary retail franchise members located throughout Botswana who trade under the names Supa 7, Supa Deal, Citi Saver, Bonanza, Pula Value and Triple Seven Liquor.