Government has granted Minergy Mining licence for its Masama Coal project in Kweneng District, despite red tape that has delayed the process.
The latest paves way for the coal explorer to commercialise its assets, becoming the second operating coal mine after Morupule Coal Mine which is partly owned by Botswana government. The BSE listed company announced to shareholders this week that the granting of the mining licence follows the completion of a feasibility study and the authorisation of the environmental impact statement (EIS) by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).
Up-beat about the development Minergy Chief Executive Officer, Andre Boje said the mine will start with 1.2 million tonnes per annum of saleable coal, which the miner intends to double to 2.4 million tonnes per annum depending on the market conditions.
“We are moving forward with production and are set to start mining in January,” said Boje.
He further highlighted that the mine will employ between 400 and 450 employees on site, as production kicks off in January 2019, and possible increase by 200 when production ramps up. In June, Minergy had challenged governments departments to adhere to regulatory timeframes stating that accelerated regulatory timeframes will allow Botswana to expeditiously utilise the country’s over 200 billion tonnes of coal resource.
He further challenged government to reduce company tax to 15 percent for coal exporting companies from 22 percent, as it is done for coal producers supplying power generation. Minergy is on record saying it wants to fast-track its production to meet the growing gap of supply and demand in the coal mining industry.
Adding his sentiment on the development, a delighted Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM) Chief Executive Officer Charles Siwawa hailed the development as the start of good things for the coal industry.“We can now have a coal industry,” said Siwawa highlighting that the development is bound to excite other miners.
He however implored miners to embrace new technology that does not release a lot of gases into the air during mining.Siwawa said mining without harming the environment supports Botswana’s sustainability efforts. Meanwhile, pre-mining construction work has already begun on site at the Masama Coal Project, allowing Minergy to have the final mine commissioned in January 2019.
According to Minergy, the miner is now able to break ground and invite contractors to start work immediately as well as to actively engage the local communities about job creation and several upliftment programmes, including improving the school and the clinic in the village closest to the mine, Medie in Kweneng district, as well as bringing in electricity.