Bots mulls over coal-to-liquid fuel
Gaborone – The Botswana Chamber of Mines has announced that it will consider setting up a coal-to-liquid fuels industry in order to exploit the country’s resources.
The chamber’s chief executive, Charles Siwawa, told reporters that his organisation, along with the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, and parastatal, Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), will conduct a feasibility study over the next two years for the project, which would boost industries from fertilisers to plastics.
He cited South Africa’s Sasol Limited, the world’s biggest maker of motor fuels from coal, as the benchmark for the initiative.
Botswana has an estimated coal resource of more than 200 billion metric tons and plans to ship 115 million tonnes of the fuel per year within a decade to meet growing demand in China and India.
Siwawa said the chamber is pushing Botswana and Namibia to expedite the construction of the 1 500-kilometre railway line that will link the coal-mining region with the port of Walvis Bay in Namibia.
“As we speak, the chamber is pushing the governments of Botswana and Namibia to expedite the construction of the 1 500km Trans-Kalahari railway linking the landlocked country’s biggest coal-mining region with the upgraded port of Walvis Bay in Namibia,” he said.
Local media reports indicate that Botswana has estimated coal resources of more than 200 billion metric tons and plans to ship 115 million tonnes of the fuel per year within a decade to meet growing demand in China and India.
A March agreement between Botswana and Namibia established a jointly owned company to administer the development of the US$15 billion railway line by private investors.
Botswana also plans to study the potential for adding value to its copper and iron-ore mining operations as it tries to lure foreign investors, Siwawa said.
“With five copper producers in the country, there is the potential for a combined smelter that would produce copper rods for export, he said. Botswana’s iron-ore mines may be capable of supporting a steel industry,” Siwawa said.