Development of the proposed Trans-Kalahari railway line (TKR) is critical for Botswana's ability to unlock the potential of its coal resources
.That's according to Gabaake Gabaake, permanent secretary for Botswana's Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, who was interviewed by Miningmx at the Africa Down Under conference in Perth, Western Australia.
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 coal fields sit on the country's eastern border, in close proximity to South Africa's Waterberg coalfield which extends into the country.
Gabaake declined to comment on the delays experienced in getting proposed coal-fired power stations up and running in Botswana to supply electricity to South Africa.
Two major independent power producer (IPP) projects - CIC Energy's Mmamabula project and Aviva's Mmamantswe project - are effectively on hold while the South African government finalises its IPP policy.
Asked what the opinion of the Botswana government was on these delays and what interaction it was having with the South African government on the issue, Gbaake replied: "That's sensitive."