The first export coal by rail from Botswana arrived in South Africa at the end of last week. 

The first coal, from Minergy’s Masama mine in the Mmamabula Coalfield in Botswana, was loaded onto trucks and transported 60km to the rail siding at Tshele Hills, in southern Botswana, last week. Image credit: Minergy

The first coal, from Minergy’s Masama mine in the Mmamabula Coalfield in Botswana, was loaded onto trucks and transported 60km to the rail siding at Tshele Hills, in southern Botswana, last week. Image credit: Minergy

The coal, from Minergy’s Masama mine in the Mmamabula Coalfield in Botswana, was loaded onto trucks and transported 60km to the rail siding at Tshele Hills, in southern Botswana, last week. This is the first of three trains bound for an industrial client in the cement sector in South Africa.

The initial train consisted of 50 wagons, with each wagon carrying about 53t of coal product, equating to approximately 2650t in total.

This is a significant achievement not only for Minergy but also for the export of coal from Botswana. “To watch the first train of export coal being loaded and knowing that the product reached the client, is certainly something to celebrate,” says Minergy CEO, Morné du Plessis. He adds that this was made possible by the commitment of and funding to develop the siding received from BotRail.

This method of transportation of coal greatly aids efficiency, cutting out time-consuming border crossings and minimising COVID-19 exposure. Du Plessis says Minergy remains dedicated to ensuring skills transfer, training and the establishment of opportunities for local business in Botswana. To this end, a tender process for the transportation of coal from the mine to the rail siding was opened, which will include participation by local transporters. Some local transporters were already utilised during this initial move of coal product from the mine to the rail siding.

It is envisaged that an off-take agreement for regular supply to the client’s coal yard will soon be in place. Conclusion of this additional off-take agreement is not only important to further diversify Minergy’s client base, but also represents Minergy’s first predominantly rail delivery client off-take agreement. With its now confirmed capability to delivery product to clients by rail, Minergy will also pursue opportunities with industrial customers in the Western Cape that have rail yards attached to their operations.