New coal finds promise 2.8 bn tonnes

Staff Writer
Five new coal sites uncovered by local and international geologists could hold 2.8 billion tonnes of coal, thousands of times more than the country's current coal production of about one million tonnes per annum.

The country's sole coal producer, Morupule Colliery Limited, holds 83 billion tonnes of coal in its concession area. The latest finds indicate that Botswana's estimated 212 billion tonnes of coal are spread across the north and east of the country.

According to Analytika Holdings' Director, Alan Golding, the new and undeveloped coal sites include Sowa Pan, Dukwe, Lechana-Tshimoyapula, Moiyabana and Takatokwane.

Although in the past geological tests have taken place in the five areas, local geological firm, Analytika, teamed up with the Prospecting Licence (PL) holders of the finds to upgrade resource studies. By further drilling, sampling and studying of results, geologists will be able to accurately gauge coal quantities, qualities, distribution in the ground and possible extraction methods and mine design.

Golding said opportunities for Botswana PL holders in coal were bright. "Anyone with a prospecting licence and harbouring a target of one billion tonnes per prospecting licence should know that this is very achievable," he said at a coal resources conference this week.

"Some of the intersections are very thick and the global 212 billion tonnes is not a pie in the sky; it's something that is likely to be achieved.

"Over the years, we have been up and down and one must never give up. It happened in Moiyabana that as we were progressing along, we suddenly found an excellent coalfield. The potential of developing a major coal producing nation is Botswana is here."

Detailing the finds, Golding explained that the Sowa coal deposit lies under the Sowa Pan Township and extends to

Dukwe. "Thanks to Asenjo (the joint venture holding PLs in the area), we have upgraded the drilling in Sowa and also done work in Dukwe", he said. "Sowa has an estimate of 1.2 billion tonnes and at Dukwe, we are still at reconnaissance but the inferred resource is 200 million tonnes."

Extensive drilling has been done at the Lechana-Tshimoyapula site, a coal deposit "very related" to the Morupule resource. Analytika estimates that 670 million tonnes of coal could be recovered from the find."We have been in Moiyabana for two seasons now and we have been drilling there," said Golding. "This is a very interesting deposit and the strip ratio could be about 7:1, which is pretty close to an open pit mine. Across the seams, this ratio goes down to 6:1."

"Also, the quality is very interesting. It's very high and has low sulphur content. We are estimating a resource of about 500 million tonnes, possibly extracted through open pit mining."

Golding said BP had attempted to gauge the Takatokwane resource in the 1970s, but struggled against the difficult geology. "We have now managed to delineate a block that we will continue exploring," he said. "We believe this area could be like Mmamabula with a three seam development. We estimate 300 million tonnes, but this is not certain at the moment."

Analytika's studies are expected to help PL holders progress their concessions towards development, leveraging on the more definite resource assessments as well as the regional and worldwide demand for energy.



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