MOTHEO PROJECT: Morupule’s P1.7 billion foundation to global heights

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The Projects | Coal Mining

On the 26th November 2021 dignitaries and captains of industries led by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi descended into Palapye to witness the official groundbreaking of Morupule Coal Mine Motheo Project.

Performed by the President himself, the groundbreaking marked a historic turn of events as Morupule Coal Mine added open cast mining to its fold of nearly 50 years of underground seam to energy. 

MOTHEO means a “FOUNDATION”. Morupule Coal Mine General Manager, Edwin Elias described the project as a new springboard that will help grow and expand the business to participate and capture the prevailing market opportunities in the coal industry.

The Motheo Project was conceptualized in November 2017 when MCM board of directors tasked the projects team with undertaking a feasibility study to investigate the economic and technicality viability of an open cast mine. 

The feasibility study was presented at the August 2018 board meeting, and the project business case demonstrated robust returns for the shareholder. Morupule Coal Mine Board approved the project for development in 2019. 

A total of 169 landowners within the project area were resettled and compensated for their land rights, following which the required environmental permits and mining license were approved and issued by relevant authorities.

Motheo Project will expand MCM operations from the current coal production capacity of 2.8 million tons per annum to 4.2 million tons per annum of run of mine (ROM) coal. This will see Morupule Coal Mine supply new customers to maintain and grow the MCM market share; improve resource utilization and realize potential asset value for the shareholder; de-risk coal supply from a single underground mine access and reduce dependency on single revenue stream from one big customer. 

PROJECT SCOPE 

The Project scope includes the development of an open cast coal mine; coal handling and process plant (CHPP) and the associated supporting infrastructure, i.e., haul roads, access roads, waste and water management, communications, power transmission lines, overland conveyors and offices.

STATUS OF THE PROJECT COMPONENTS

ComponentCONTRACTORSTATUS
Contracted for earthworks and civilsSteffanuti Stocks  BotswanaComplete
Construction of 2.5 km parameter and internal fencesPlanet Cure ProjectsComplete
Development of a coal handling and processing plant facilities (CHPP)Johdee Minerals Processing Botswana Ongoing
Development of the open cast coal mining area and related facilitiesBasil Rea- Bothakga Burrow Join Venture (BR-BB)Ongoing

PROJECT SOCIO-ECONOMIC BENEFITS

Motheo Project has stimulated positive socio-economic impact within Palapye and the neighbouring communities through local employment.

Over 900 short-term employments opportunities have been created thus far and 350 permanent jobs are expected during the operations phase. 

There has been training and development, local procurement and citizen economic empowerment opportunities during construction phase of the projects and these benefits will continue to operation phase of the project.

OFFICIAL GROUNDBREAKING 

Speaking during the official groundbreaking ceremony of the Motheo Project Morupule Coal Mine newly appointed General Manager Edwin Elias said for almost 50 years, the role that coal has played and continues to play in securing Botswana’s energy needs and the  economic potential the resource has in supporting the Botswana’s  economic diversification efforts, as well as maintaining the country’s socio-economic stability can never go unnoticed. 

“We are very proud of what coal has done to our economy and the limitless opportunities it presents to us going into the future. We are determined to maximize on the utilization of the vast coal resource endowment which our country enjoys and the Motheo Project must bear testimony to the actualization of that determination,” he said 

Elias underscored that Motheo Project will catapult Morupule into new global heights, the likes of which the company has never reached before. 

“We want to increase our share in the regional market and eventually increase our presence in the seaborne and international markets. The demand for coal globally has increased, and we wish to fulfil the prevailing demand while at the same time thinking of alternative uses which can be undertaken using modern mining methods and coal beneficiation techniques that are environmental-friendly and sustainably adaptive,”he noted.

He said MCM’s vision is to be a leading coal energy business: “therefore, we will transition towards this through introducing new technologies, promoting innovation and digitization to our mining methods and business processes.”

Speaking on behalf of the mining contractor, BasilRead-Bothakga Burrow (BRBBJV), Bothakga Burrow Managing Director, Arthur Siwawa said the joint venture will undertake the opening cast mine planning, scheduling, drill and blast, load and haul of coal and waste over a five-year period. BRBBJV will mine 23 million cubic meters of waste and run of mine coal. 

Siwawa said the Joint Venture will be employing in excess of 250 people during the five-year period.”We will be continuing with the roll-out of our Graduate Development Programme that will see us to continue to invest in our feature leaders in the mining sector,” he said. 

Furthermore, the Joint Venture will promote citizen economic Inclusion by empowering local businesses.”As a beneficiary of citizen empowerment and successful JV formula, we are creating a framework that will ensure that all our business partners and service providers are similarly empowered as a pre-condition of doing business with us,” he said.  

Siwawa vowed that BasilRead Bothakga Burrow Joint Venture will successfully deliver the Motheo open cast mining safely and on time. 

When official ground breaking the P1.7 billion project, Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe said that mining remains one of the most important economic sectors which holds the key to transforming Botswana to an Upper Income Country. 

“Our mining industry, as you may all know is dependent on diamonds, which is limited in scope for our revenue base. It is against this backdrop that, Government is pursuing measures to expand its revenue base to other minerals, including coal”

He noted that the 212 billion tonnes largely untapped coal reserves that Botswana sits on therefore require the country to take steps to sustainably use them for the socio-economic development. 

He highlighted that Botswana is experiencing a shortage of electricity with only 60 percent being generated locally, and thus coal from Morupule Mine remains the predominant source of energy, feeding both  Morupule A and Morupule B power plants, to meet the country’s power demands, mainly base load generation.

The President hailed the Motheo expansion project, noting that it assist Government’s efforts to increase rural electrification and village connectivity as per its promise to Batswana.

President Masisi said his government was aware of the sensitivity surrounding coal mining and the utilization of natural resources, particularly from the point of view of sustainability. 

“For us to maintain sustainable environment does not mean that our natural resources should not be used. Rather, sustainability requires a balanced approach to development, that is; to sustainably harness and manage the natural resources, which we are endowed with, for sustainable economic growth and for the benefit of our people,” he said. 

Masisi reiterated Botswana’s commitment to sustainable energy sources: “I want to emphasize that we are committed to our international obligations, to contribute to the reduction of carbo emissions, some of which result from the conventional generation of electricity using coal.  We have developed an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and a Coal Road Map to guide efforts for the sustainable exploitation of the vast coal resources, through the use of clean technologies, while at the same time deriving maximum benefits for sustainable economic diversification and job creation.”

Botswana is signatory to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change and has signed the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Masisi noted that Government has committed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent by 2030. Morupule Coal Mine drives a programme towards this national effort to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions from 45 kilotonnes per annum to circa 30 kilotonnes per annum, through deploying technologies such as electric utility vehicles in the mining areas from January 2022. 

Giving closing remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Lefoko Moagi said after Motheo Project commissioning, Morupule Coal Mine will operate both underground and open cast mining with production up from 2.8 million tons per annum to 4.2 million tons per annum and will potential to go up to 10 million tons per annum given the prevailing positive market conditions of coal demand. 

“Coal will continue to play a critical role in Botswana’s energy security efforts while the country is working hard to transition to renewable energy sources, in the interim we will be exploring other avenues and technologies around clean coal energy,” he said.

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