PALAPYE: Shumba Energy’s development manager, Comfort Molosiwa has confirmed to Palapye Administration Office sub-council on Tuesday that their Lechana power station and mining project are underway.
He said among others transition studies, conceptual moulding of power station, water solution and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) are at an advanced stage.
The P6 billion project is expected to address shortage of electricity that has been a problem all over the country including neighbouring countries. He emphasised that Shumba Energy has committed itself to adhering to the World Bank standards in emission of charcoal to supply electricity. “It has been known that cheap energy is necessary for industrial production. Therefore, we have stood up as a private company to emit electricity using cheap energy to supply Botswana and its surrounding neighbours such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia, “he said.
He indicated their company has been short-listed alongside other two companies, African Energy and Jindal to supply South Africa with 300 Mega Watts (MW) electricity in 2021 and in order to do that they need to have their own mine.
The mine that wil be built at Lechana settlement, which is located about 30km from Palapye, will take them around three to four years to build. “Therefore we are optimistic that in 2018/19 Lechana Mine will be up and running,” he said.
Molosiwa promised that the project will create employment for Batswana in the long run boosting the economy of the country.
He also called for other companies to invest in their project because the project of this magnitude needs investment and there will be many returns. On their part, councillors appreciated the development saying it will put the country on the map and solve electricity crisis facing the country.
However, some civic leaders were worried that charcoal emits toxins that are not healthy and it has a potential of putting people’s lives in danger in the long term.
Councillor George Makhura said instead of charcoal, they could opt to use solar energy instead which does not expose people to any health risks. He also noted that the solar energy unlike charcoal does not expire.
Councillor for Mmaphula East, Mphoentle Kabelo wondered how Shumba Energy is going to deal with a situation where people live in the area where the mine is going to be built.
He asked if they were going to compensate them or if they would build houses for them and their boreholes in other places.
Morupule Councilor, Jordan Makhura said many companies that either compensated them with peanuts or nothing at all left many people in the past in the cold.
He also noted that benefeciaries of the project should from the Palapye and Lechana settlement in terms of employment.
“Often times companies bring the development to a certain village/town but people residing in those areas are sidelined, instead the company will bring its workforce and in some instances, expatriates. We hope that Lechana power station will benefit our children here,” he said.
However, Molosiwa said that the reason they do underground mining and not opencast is to avoid using too much land where they will be forced to move people. He said they will arrange with the Land Board on how they are going to compensate those who will be affected by the mining project. “We will make sure that we do not impoverish those we move. Our intention is to co-exist with them, and provide a friendly environment to them,” he said.
On the issue of charcoal being a health risk to people, Molosiwa said they use limestone rocks to suppress sulphur gas by eliminating substances that are not health conscious.