Minergy, the coal mining and trading company with the Masama coal mine located in the Mmamabula Coalfield of Botswana, has announced the export of Botswana’s first coal by rail to South Africa.
The coal, mined at the Masama coal mine, was loaded onto trucks and transported 60 km to the rail siding at Tshele Hills. This is the first of three trains bound for an industrial client in the cement sector in South Africa.
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The initial train consisted of 50 wagons, with each wagon carrying approximately 53 tonnes of coal product, equating to roughly 2 650 tonnes in total.
The launch was attended Minister of Transport and Communications, Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development, Assistant Minister of Basic Education, local dignitaries and representatives of Minergy, Botswana Railways (BotRail) and ABSA.
This is a significant achievement not only for Minergy but also for the export of coal from Botswana.
“To watch the first train of export coal being loaded and knowing that the product reached the client, is certainly something to celebrate,” said Minergy CEO Morné du Plessis.
He added that this was made possible by the commitment of and funding to develop the siding received from BotRail. This method of transportation of coal greatly aids efficiency, cutting out time consuming border crossings and minimising COVID-19 exposure.
Minergy remains dedicated to ensuring skills transfer, training and the establishment of opportunities for local business in Botswana. To this end, a tender process for the transportation of coal from the mine to the rail siding was opened, which will include participation by local transporters. Some local transporters were already utilised during this initial move of coal product from the mine to the rail siding.
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Du Plessis went on to indicate that he was in total agreement with the Minister of Transport and Communications, Thulaganyo Segokgo, as quote in the Botswana Daily News article by Omphile Ntakhwana, “What makes me happy is the fact that this milestone is the beginning of a new partnership between Minergy Coal and Botswana Railways, which falls under my ministry.
“I must emphasise that this partnership must be nurtured into a sustainable and long lasting one,” he said. He added that it was without doubt that infrastructure and by extension railway infrastructure acted as key enabler of economic development, a catalyst for business and a facilitator of employment creation.”
It is envisaged that an off-take agreement for regular supply to the client’s coal yard will soon be in place. Conclusion of this additional off-take agreement is not only important to further diversify Minergy’s client base, but it also represents Minergy’s first predominantly rail delivery client off-take agreement.
With its now confirmed capability to delivery product to clients by rail, Minergy will also pursue opportunities with industrial customers in the Western Cape that have rail yards attached to their operations.
“This was not only a great day for Minergy but a momentous day for the Botswana coal industry,” said du Plessis, adding that “the team on the ground, including Minergy employees as well as those from BotRail and the Ministry of Transport and Communications, are to be commended for the outstanding logistics and support achieved in the process”.
In conclusion, du Plessis indicated that the second train is being loaded and should be in South Africa at the start of the weekend.