07 May 2019

Botswana Railways has aired its plan to start
construction of a coal railway line – the Mmamabula-Lephalale line – in 2021.
The project’s key objective is to establish a higher-capacity, heavy-duty coal export
line that will facilitate transportation of the resource from Botswana.

The country has over 200 billion tonnes of coal
making up two-thirds of the coal on the African continent but lack of means to
transport the commodity is obstructing the country from reaching her full
potential, as well as forcing the few active investors in the sector to focus
on power generation and local sales.

Currently only Morupule Coal
 is making use of the existing rail, whereas Minergy, another coal producer, is
expecting to send out its first coal soon from its Masama Coal Mine.

The non-coastal South African country with at least
two million inhabitants, has a strong government-led focus to expand the
predominantly mining-driven economy. Recently the government of Botswana has
been offering prospective investors in the broad coal sector a set of
attractive incentives.

Leonard Makwinja, Botswana Railways CEO, said that
the railway, upon completion, would bring extensive opportunities for local
coal development. “It will open up mining of coal in the Mmamabula coal field
and within two years there will be more than 3,000 direct job opportunities and
many more should be expected.  In addition, revenue from coal mining will
advance regional trade from South Africa as the railway line will offer the
shortest route.” he concluded.

The planned railway will be an addition to more than 800 km of rail network that is government-owned, making the country the second in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of per capita density.

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