MAUN: The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) is undertaking a multi million Pula power transmission lines project that is expected to address electricity woes of the base metals miners in the northern part of the country.
BPC officials recently addressed a Kgotla meeting in Maun where they revealed that the project would begin this financial year. BPC official, Enoc Rrampha said the project is divided into four phases being Lot 1, which is from Palapye to Letlhakane, Lot 2 from Letlhakane to Mawana, Lot 3 from Mawana to Toteng and Lot 4 from Toteng to Shakawe. He said Lot 4 also entails the design and construction of a high voltage line from Toteng to Shakawe and Toteng to Ghanzi with substations at Gumare and Shakawe.
BPC said the transmission line to Toteng will benefit the copper mining along the booming Kalahari copper belt. The recently closed Boseto mine near Toteng owned by DML, has been constrained by lack of electricity supplies in the area since commisioning in 2012 forcing the mine to operate from a diesel generator. The mine reportedly spent P26 million monthly to fuel the diesel engine at Boseto. Another copper mining company, Khoemacau Copper Mining, formerly known as Hana Mining, has announced plans to start mining at its Somelo settlement site in 2016.
In Shakawe, Tsodilo Resources has been prospecting for iron, while plans are also underway to begin mining in the area. Rrampha emphasised that apart from boosting commercial and residential electricity supplies, the project would boost local economies through job creation during the construction phase. The construction involves clearing of vegetation to pave way for the transmission line, and the excavations and erections of pylons, as well as construction of access roads and substations. Rrampha further said construction of transmission line would affect properties in the affected project areas such as boreholes, farms and residential plots. BPC revealed that they have engaged a consultant to undertake an Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the project. Some of the expected impacts of the project inlude soil erosion during construction and potential electrocution of some birds from colliding with the active power grid, while residents may be affected by noise pollution.