Masama coal project is a 390 million tonnes (Mt) export-quality thermal coal project being developed by Minergy Coal in south-western Botswana, approximately 50km north of Gaborone. Owned 100% by Minergy, it is the first open-cast coal mining project in Botswana.

Minergy acquired the project from Shell Coal Botswana and carried out extensive exploration and drilling on the property between 2012 and 2017.

It started construction on the project after receiving mining license from the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Botswana, in August 2018.

The Masama coal mine  is expected to produce 2.4Mt of coal a year, starting from 2019. The estimated life of the mine is 100 years.

Masama coal project location and geology

The Masama coal mine occupies 120km² on the south-western edge of the Mmambula coalfield, which is spread over 420km² and is divided into three blocks, namely the West, Central, and East blocks.

Masama coal mine forms part of the West block of the Mmambula coalfield.

The project geology is characterized by coal resources, mudstone, and sandstones of the Mmamabula Formation of the Ecca Group, which is part of the Karoo Supergroup.

The Masama open-cast coal mining project is based on two gently-dipping coal seams, namely the A and E seams of the Mmambula West block, that sub-crop near the surface at depths ranging between 20m and 130m. The thickness of the coal seams is up to 6m.

Masama coal reserves

The Masama coal project was estimated to contain 390Mt of coal reserves as of December 2017.

According to Minnergy, the resource estimate for the mine can be further expanded with more exploration at the site.

Coal mining and processing for the Masama project

The Masama coal project will be a conventional open-cast mining operation using trucks and shovels for the first 25 years of the mine life. The E, A, and AU coal seams in the West block are amenable for open-cast mining.

Shallow underground mining method involving drill and blast operations will be carried out to extract the G and K coal seams at a later stage.

The extracted coal from the mine will be processed at an on-site single-stage wash plant, which will use dense medium cyclones and spirals for separation of saleable coal and discards.

The final coal product from the project will be transported by rail to the local and regional markets including South Africa and Namibia.

Infrastructure facilities for the Masama coal project

The Masama coal project site is accessed via the A1 highway, which runs from Gaborone to Francistown.

The nearest railway line is located approximately 40km east to the project site. Minergy Coal received approval from Botswana Railway in August 2017 for constructing a railway siding at Tshele Hills.

The coal project will receive electricity from the nearby 220kV transmission lines running from the Isang substation located 20km away from the project site.

Water requirement of the project will be met through local boreholes.

Contractors involved with the Masama coal project

The resource estimate for the Masama coal project was prepared by GM Geotechnical Consultants.

Jarcon, a joint venture between South Africa-based IPP Mining & Materials Handling and Botswana-based Giant Plant, has been awarded the mining contract for the project.

Pentalin Processing, a company based in South Africa, has been awarded the build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) contract for the coal wash plant of the Masama coal project.