Mmamabula drill
rig in Botswana
at sunset
 
Perth, Australia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 03 September 2010 – A top government mining official says the development of the proposed Trans-Kalahari railway line (TKR) is critical in order to enable Botswana to unlock the future potential of its coal resources.

This is the opinion of Botswana Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources permanent secretary Gabaake Gabaake, expressed in an interview with Miningmx at the Africa Down Under conference here.

But Gabaake maintained any development would have to be driven by the private sector, with facilitation from the governments of Botswana and Namibia. That view is challenged by sources at the conference, who feel that both governments will have to get involved directly in raising the funds needed.

The Botswana and Namibian governments are currently working on a feasibility study on the TKR project, while discussions are under way between various coal companies to undertake a bankable feasibility study. The proposed line would link to either Luderitz or Walvis Bay, where a dedicated coal export terminal would be built.

Botswana’s major coalfields sit on the country’s eastern border, in close proximity to South Africa’s Waterberg coalfield which extends into the country.

Despite this, Gabaake ruled out any plans to export coal from Botswana through South Africa.

“There’s no capacity available at Richards Bay, and there’s no capacity available on the South African railway system,” he said.

“One possible alternative might be to export via Maputo, but that means going through three countries and involves dealing with a lot more in the way of environmental and community issues,” he explained.