The coal export trial, the second of its kind this year, was conducted through a partnership between Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed African Energy, Morupule Coal Mine, logistics company, Grindrod Mozambique and international coal trader, Vital Coal South Africa. African Energy owns Sese deposit in Botswana.
The company says the trial run through Zimbabwe took three days and proved the feasibility of the Maputo route for bulk exports of coal to overseas markets. "The first ever export trial of Botswana coal has been successfully concluded, marking a milestone achievement for the country and for our Sese coal and power project.
"The coal has been unloaded at the Maputo Coal Terminal which is owned and operated by Grindrod and will be stockpiled for eventual export sale by international energy trader, Vitol Coal," said African Energy in a statement.Early this year, African Energy tested the same 1,300km route between Francistown and Maputo with a 25-tonne consignment although the coal was not commercially sold in Mozambique.
This time, African Energy says they have transferred ownership of the coal to Vitol. The consignment has been unloaded and stockpiled at the Maputo Terminal."The coal stockpile will be sold and subsequently loaded into bulk carriers at the terminal as part of routine coal export operations, marking the first time that Botswana coal has been exported to overseas markets," says the energy firm, which is at an advanced of opening Botswana's second coal mine at Sese.
In what would be a boost to the country's plans to significantly exploit the estimated 212 billion tonnes of coal resources, African Energy says that the trial run proved conclusively that bulk exports from collieries in Botswana via the Maputo corridor is feasible. It also provided invaluable technical information on the operation of rail services.
Botswana Railways assembled the 400m long train at Francistown Station. A Botswana Railways (BR) crew and locomotive then took the train to the Zimbabwean border, where a National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) crew and locomotive took over.
The Zimbabwe crew and locomotive handed over the train to Mozambique railway company, Caminhos de Ferro de Mocambique (CFM) which took it to its final destination, the main coal yard at the port of Maputo. African Energy hopes to open a 1.5 Mtpa coal mine next year as part of the Sese Integrated Power Project. The project includes an initial 300-megawatt power station, for which the company recently signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with a regional power off-taker.
While African Energy is a near producer, Morupule Coal Mine is the countries only operating coal mine. Morupule has already begun exporting the commodity to regional countries such as Namibia and South Africa. Under its recently finalised expansion, Morupule increased its production from about one million tonnes of coal per annum to 3.2 million tones. Full capacity production can reportedly reach four million tonnes per annum. Approximately 2.8 million tonnes of the production is tied to a 20-year supply contract with the adjacent Morupule A and B power stations, owned and operated by the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC).
Experts believe that with the current infrastructure, Botswana can export up to 1.5 million tonnes of coal per year.