By Ere-ebi Agedah
As the Ukraine war forces Europe to pivot more to Africa for energy resources,Botswana has disclosed plans to supply coal to Europe and estimates that demand from Western countries could top a million tonnes a year.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi as key speaker at the Mining Indaba conference, recenty in Cape Town noted that with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Europe has sought to cut its gas imports from Russia, which many European nations previously relied on, and is looking at other parts of the world to meet its fuel demand, including coal.
“We have received inquiries from Europe and so we want to (export),”
‘‘That potentially opens the floodgates to coal supplies from Africa, sending prices sharply higher and spurring investment into Africa’’ he said
Botswana’s coal production has been limited and it has mostly exported to neighbouring countries, according to the International Energy Agency. However, it plans to increase production.
Masisi added that Botswana has seen demand from both governments and the private sector in Europe and estimates that demand from Europe could reach more than 50,000 tonnes a month.
Lefoko Moagi, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, said in the same interview that Botswana could meet that demand, while Masisi said it wanted to do so “as soon as possible.”
Coal prices have more than doubled since the beginning of the year and mining companies are scrambling to pump up production and benefit from high prices, even as there is rising pressure on companies and countries to stop using high-polluting coal.
“Typically what we’ve been getting is 50,000 tonnes a month is what they want to get, but we’ve also had others (inquiring about) long-term contracts, (we are) looking at a million tonnes a year from individual countries (combined),” Moagi said.
However, President Masisi emphasised that all parties were committed to reducing carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.
“So, clearly, there will be some responsibility arrangements in how to use the coal so that we don’t cause a lot of pollution” he said.