Botswana Chamber
of Mines CEO Charles
Goa, India — 14 March 2013 – Botswana, the world’s largest producer of diamonds, plans to seek initial bids for the construction of an US$11 billion railway line connecting its biggest coal-mining region to a port in neighbouring Namibia.

The land-locked southern African nation may list tenders by September to build a 1,500km railway line from its coal fields in the east to Walvis Bay in Namibia, Botswana Chamber of Mines CEO Charles Siwawa said in an interview here reported by Bloomberg News. The country is also considering building a US$4 billion coal port at Walvis Bay.

Demand from China, India and Japan for coal from Africa is fuelling development of mines outside of South Africa, as well as construction of rail lines and ports necessary to ship the fuel to buyers. Botswana is betting that neighbours Namibia and Mozambique will work with it to expand transportation capacity for commodities as the country seeks to reduce its dependence on revenue from diamonds.

“Despite large reserves of thermal coal, Botswana doesn’t feature in the radar of importing nations,” Siwawa said. “We are opening up in a big way and in three to four years, I am hopeful there will be a shift.”

Coal will come close to surpassing oil as the world’s top energy source by 2017, the International Energy Agency said in a report last December. In that period, coal usage will increase in every region of the world except in the U.S., where the fuel is being pushed out by natural gas, it added.

The railway line and the port in Namibia would allow Botswana to export as much as 40Mtpa of power-station coal, about half of what South Africa exports a year, Siwawa said. Exports may climb to as much as 115Mt in seven years. Botswana currently produces 3Mtpa of thermal coal and consumes all of it.

Source: Bloomberg News. For more information, click here.